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Out here: They sacrificed; we got a tax cut

Veterans on the Honor Flight pose for a photo at the World War II memorial Sept. 20 
in Washington, D.C. Veterans from the Sauk Valley on the trip ranged in age from 75 
to 91.
Veterans on the Honor Flight pose for a photo at the World War II memorial Sept. 20 in Washington, D.C. Veterans from the Sauk Valley on the trip ranged in age from 75 to 91.

As reporters, we never show feelings when we’re on the job. We take in everything objectively.

Yeah, right.

The truth is, we’re human. Yes, we try to remove our emotions as much as possible while on duty. But they are there.

Recently, I was assigned to cover Honor Flight, a program that takes World War II and other veterans to Washington to see war memorials.

I had to keep my emotions in check a couple of times. When the 90-some veterans arrived in Washington, more than a dozen volunteers were on hand to cheer them on, with World War II-era music blaring in the background.

Travelers, including a couple of college students, joined the greeting line. The veterans loved it. I held back tears. So did others, I’m sure.

When the veterans, including 46 from the Sauk Valley, returned to the Quad Cities airport late that night, hundreds applauded them, many holding signs. Bagpipe players performed.

Again, a very touching moment. 

It was a long day, from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Before I went, I asked fellow reporter Kiran Sood, who had gone on a 2010 Honor Flight, whether she snoozed at all. She said she did on the flight back. Then she said she was kidding. 

I saw what the joke was on the return flight. No one had a chance to rest. It was mail call. Organizers read letters written for veterans on the Honor Flight. I looked around. Everyone was awake. 

I could say that I understand what the WWII generation went through. But I don’t. Nor do most people.

It was the Greatest Generation for a reason. Just about everyone chipped in to the war effort. Millions of those who didn’t fight worked in the States making munitions, airplanes and other war supplies. The government rationed food, clothing and gasoline. And Washington increased income tax rates.

Compare that to Sept. 11. After the terrorist attacks, our leaders told us to go shop and take a tax cut. We gladly did. Sure, many of us hung U.S. flags from our car windows. But did we really sacrifice? Of course not. 

Our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq involved only a sliver of American society. At first, we watched the developments on TV, then gradually lost interest.

We could learn something from the World War II generation.

Schilling gets Tribune’s nod

The state’s biggest newspaper has thrown its support behind U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Colona, who is facing Cheri Bustos, D-East Moline, in the 17th District.

The Democrats redrew the 17th District to help get one of their own elected. So we’ve got a real race in the 17th, which includes Sterling and Rock Falls. Schilling has pulled in $1.5 million in contributions so far, with Bustos close behind at $1.3 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

On Monday, the Chicago Tribune endorsed Schilling, saying he was “willing to make tough reforms to Medicare, Social Security, food stamps.” Meanwhile, the newspaper says Bustos is long on promises but short on specifics – for instance, her pledge that she’s “unwilling to balance the budget on the backs of seniors and the backs of middle-class Americans.”

According to the Tribune, Bustos declined to say whether she would have supported the Cooper-LaTourette bipartisan budget-cutting plan.

Schilling, on the other hand, voted no. He told the Tribune he didn’t like the plan because it didn’t address problems with Medicare.

“We wish he had supported it,” the Tribune said, “but at least Schilling showed he could take a reasoned stand and defend it. Schilling can help to drive the federal government to fiscal solvency.”

Sauk Valley Media reporter David Giuliani covers the Whiteside and Lee county governments, Morrison and other smaller communities. He can be reached at dgiuliani@saukvalley or at 800-798-4085, ext. 525. 

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