NOTE: I've added pictures from yesterday into the post in an update
Now, back to our 'normal' updates...
Update 10: Our final update of the day, I've been watching the procession of the 'lesser politicos' take the stage- from the Governor of Minnisota to the Mayor of Minneapolis, and others. To me, the most important one after the President's address was the presentation of the Legion Riders' checks to the Legacy Fund- and to date, total $632,666 in collections this year! That's an enormous amount in such an economy. I shudder to think what it would be in one that was near-normal.
I promise to have pictures and videos added here shortly to go along with the updates. I have quite a few to put up. Again, be sure to see TAH for other updates as Jonn posts them...
Update 9: Congressman Keith Ellison, from Minnesota has now taken the podium. Oh, and boy, did they change that podium quickly. Previously, they had the Presidents podium up for the morning, and now, they have the 'normal' one for the remaining speakers. Interesting. Rep Ellison speaks on those who want to become Americans, and how veterans have protected those people to have that chance. How each that enjoy that right owes a debt to veterans for that chance. (While I realize that no politician will stand up here and say much against Legion and Legion supporters, I still have to question how they can be in favor of so much that is in direct conflict with these ideals and still say 'thank you' to us for what we've done, and will do. Can someone explain this to me?)
Update 8: Here we go- Sen Al Franken is up. This should be good. Mentions sponsoring service dog act, one of his first pieces of legislation. His remarks are not 'sharp'- he seems off his game for some reason, and very unenthusiastic. I have to hand it to Sen Franken- I've been with him when he's toured Iraq, and met him on his way thru Kuwait a few times prior to his becoming a Senator. He does support veterans, that much I know. Its a puzzle how they can support veterans, while supporting things that undermine them in other ways. He's no Blue-Dog type. He does pass a good joke from a wounded warrior- one who lost his leg in an IED attack, and was missing a leg. He mentions how he asked how the soldier was doing, and the soldier replies, 'well sir, I just came in here for a vasectomy...' BA-doomp boomp...
He now quotes Reagan- and how in 1985 he said those who died gave up two lives- they one they were living, and the one they would have lived. It is a poingnant quote and quite appropriate.
Update 7: Sen Nancy Klobuchar is speaking- and is addressing veterans issues. Speaking mainly on keeping vets off the streets and getting them a home. She says that many come home, shortchanged in benefits. What goes unsaid is- those benefits are 'shortchanged' not because there ARE NO benefits, but because the administration of the VA can't get its act together...what would they expect? I must say, it's hard to follow an act such as the POTUS speaking- the hall is far more empty than when the POTUS was in here.
I'm looking over the press updates across NYT, WaPo, and others, to see what they are saying about the presidents remarks. So far, only CNN and USA Today has covered it 'live' from here with bloggers. The rest have only published his prepared statements released by the WH press office. None seem to have been here to record what ACTUALLY happened and how it was received...
Updating: He's finished the stage meets, and is now walking the floor up front; many people have moved forward to greet/get a chance to shake his hands, but its not a bum-rush up. The SS is keeping people quite at bay for this. He's up in the front rows of the crowd- moving patiently down the row. He's being quite congenial to everyone here and appears to be enjoying himself. Had I been on stage, I'd likely have shook his hand, but I'm not making any move forward at this time. I might stand up if he walks by... but like any good soldier, that's respect for the position, right?
He has finished his remarks, shaking the hand of the Commander of the Legion again, and I must say- the applause was short, mild, and less than I would have considered for the CinC. The hall has fallen silent..totally, except for the organist who's playing music for the background. He's taking the time to shake the hand of everyone on stage now. He's crossing both sides of the stage, not missing anyone that I can see. He pledged to veterans in his closing that 'America will never leave your side- and will always appreciate you, and stand behind you..'
Does not want to do these things for veterans only when its easy, only when the US is flush with cash, but 'always'. Now mentions Frank Buckles, the last WWI veteran who died at 110, and his incredible life after the military. How he continued to give back even after turning 100. How he was a member of the Legion for 80 years.
'After a decade of war, need to concentrate on nation building here at home'. Now, brings in the line 'Moving America Forward'. That's a campaign reference, if you don't remember that one (google it). Wants to tap the talents of veterans, and help them find the jobs, and help with career development and job searches. To prepare for transition to civilian sector jobs. Wants to encourage private sector to emply '100k veterans and/or their spouses' for jobs, and has been working with VP Biden to push this. To give tax credits to those that hire vets, and more for those that hire wounded vets. Wants this to be at the top of the agenda when Congress returns from recess.
'The constant threat of IED's and the warfare they experience brings traumatic injury to our current generation, the 9/11 generation, of veterans.' He talks about TBI, and the need to help families care for those who have been injured. PTSD has also received mention, treating more and bringing in more counselors. Removing the stimitization of those that have TBI and PTSD. ''Americans did not die because they are weak, they died because they are warriors...doing what they needed to do.'' (good round of applause).
Mentions that 'because 3 diseases are presumed to be caused and related to exposure to Agent Orange- we are paying benefits on those... and for those from Desert Storm and the 9 diseases presumed to be caused by exposure (to what?-W) there..'' ''We will keep on it until we have an electronic medical card that you can keep for your lifetime''. Wants Shinseki to keep increasing what is need so that we dont' have to FIGHT for those benefits for which we've fought for. To end homelessnes for veterans, 'and for taking tens of thousands of homeless vets off the streets'.
Says its a moral obligation to take care of those who have served. That his budget he signed had the largest increase in veterans benefits ever. Tough choices as we 'put our fiscal house in order, we must NOT, will NOT, balance the budget on the backs of our veterans and those who have served (largest applause to this point, by far).
Promises to bring home 33k troops and more in the coming years... moving to a support role, letting the Afghans take over for their own security and growth. He says they have put an end to stop-loss, and reduced time in deployments. And says 'America's military is the best it's ever been'. Then goes on to say how we helped stop Gaddafi and liberate Libya. And pledges to 'keep our military the best trained and best equipped'.
The President is now talking about those who have served, and sacrificed in the war on terror. His speech, to this point, has been fairly good, better than I have expected. Given the audience, one would have to tread lightly, but the speech writer for this particular speech has done some homework. Even going so far as to give us credit for reducing violence. Think the press will pick up on it? Speaking of which, I'm going to peruse the press outlets after this, and see what they say, versus what I experienced here. He now mentions, of course, the Bin Laden takedown. He asks those who he call the '9/11 Generation' to stand and be recognized.
We are in a pause as the President prepares to enter.... more as we can get them...
President has arrived- and has been introduced by Legion Commander Foster. I will say his reception was mixed- a few cheers, huzzahs, and polite applause. His key points, applauded by a few. He comes across as trying to be warm, and receptive. He thanks the Legion for the partnership in taking care of veterans.
Next, he addresses Hurricane Irene- and those that need help in recovering. While it's for a national audience, it's not the job of the Legion.
Now, he talks about the 'backlog' in the Congress in moving forward with trying to achieve progress in 'saving America'. Funny now, he uses the Nazi control of the German congress now. To me, its' an oblique reference to our current congress- weirdly, its not one that would be totally appropriate.
He goes on to say that, our Vietnam Vets 'won the war, every single one of you', and 'welcome home'. It is a nice gesture that is nicely received by the audience. He is going thru each conflict- from the VN war, to Desert Storm, and now to 9/11. (as an aside- the rememberances and commemoration of 10 yrs is approaching... I'll have some links to what's going on around the nation soon).
Update 5: Miss America, Teresa Scanlan, is addressing the floor- and indeed what a lovely speaker she is. Very outspoken, beautiful, and graceful. She's been here several days, and I have passed her a few times, not realizing she truly was THE Miss America. She's not wearing the crown 24/7, at least not here. I thought she might have been a past Miss America rather than the current one. Her ambition? To become a lawyer, of course. Please, does anyone NOT want to become another unemployed lawyer?? The M-A website lists her age as 18, but that has to be quite old- she could easily pass for 24 or 25 (no, I'm not saying she's 'old' looking- just far more mature than just 18..)
Update 4: Next up is a really special speaker- Mr Nick DelCalzo, who you may recognize as the author/photographer of the book Medal of Honor-Portraits of Valor, and a photo book on Holocaust survivors, is presenting information on his next project, In Honored Glory which is a tribute to those who have served. It is also to inspire younger Americans to serve, and to show them who has served and how. A gifted photographer, find more information about it here: http://www.inhonoredglory.com/
Update 3: Up next is former Congressman Chet Edwards. He's receiving the Legion's highest honor, the Distinguished Service Medal. (Not to be confused with DoD's medal of the same name.) Mr Edwards is being recognized for his championing of veteran's issues. Two of which include raising money for veterans benefits, as well as helping re-write the GI bill for veterans and those in the services.
Update 2: "They don't care what you know, they just care what you stand for.. and we stand for a lot." - Daniel Eugene "Rudy" Ruettiger, who is speaking at the convention currently. Wonderful speaker.
Update 1: Who needs politicians, anyway? There is an article up at Fox and others regarding the 'snub' the VFW is feeling because the administration isn't offering up any speakers. Apparently, they did, but the VFW turned them all down. All of this hubub may just be window dressing, if you recall the snafu of the VFW PAC in the runup to the 2010 electoral season. By this, I mean that most of those addressing the VFW this convention are Republican, while ALL, or nearly all, of the speakers addressing the Legion, are Democrats. This is certainly an interesting situation.
Sitting in Bloggers Row here in the convention center with Jonn from TAH; supposedly, Ed Morrisey from HotAir is supposed to join us, but no sight of him yet. Place is getting busy early and quickly. Magnetometers all over; lines queued up to get thru;
inspections that would make the TSA jealous. But no scanners? WTH?
I will make one observation- they have a room set aside for 'Law Enforcement' that's as big as any of the other breakout rooms in the building. Not that they don't deserve one mind you, but holy crap, how MANY do we have here? Oh right- we have a Special Guest coming in. Or two.
I just go back to my time in Baghdad, in a war zone, where few things were truly secure, and all the visits I handled, to include some serious 'visitors'. Not once was my weapon even mentioned, nor even glanced at; no one asked me to remove so much as a bullet. But here, in my own damn country, I've nearly got to strip just to get into a PATRIOTIC groups meeting. Respectful fellow, every one.
Sad, truly sad, what we've devolved into here in the USA...
Anyway, I digress. I'll post up vids and pics as they get developed. Videos likely much later today.