Story last updated at 7/15/2009 - 11:32 am
I'm not a Michael Jackson hater. I liked his music, partly because it was part of my life as a young man. And I never judge people and their morals. Unless convicted by a court of law, it's really between them, the truth - whatever that might be - and their maker.
But as thousands of people filled a huge arena in Los Angeles this week, and millions more were glued to their television sets; as accolades unlimited were spoken about the late "King of Pop," my mind was on how seven other Americans might be honored. You see, on July 6, seven American troops were killed in Afghanistan, making it the deadliest day for our military there in nearly a year.
Their bodies would no doubt be shipped back to our nation in those standard military coffins. The American flags draping these simple containers would be the sole hope for added color, grandeur or beauty.
The coffins would have no stately gold or magnificent silk to hold their precious remains.
It is likely that no lottery will be necessary to gain tickets to their respective funerals or memorial services. No one will offer up a thin dime on eBay or Craigslist to have the honor of being present when the soldiers' families and friends gather to remember their fallen loved ones. I doubt many celebrities will be present at any of these somber occasions. Rev. Al Sharpton will have moved on to his next gig.
I feel certain we will not see repeated special TV broadcasts about the acts of bravery and heroism these soldiers performed as they fought to keep our nation from having to again encounter firsthand an organization active in Afghanistan and Pakistan that would, if given the chance, act to topple another American building. "Entertainment Tonight" won't cover these deaths because, hey, they aren't entertaining.
I guess you get the picture.
I'm not here to put down those who were touched by and who grieved over the death of Jackson. It would be just as easy to name-call and dwell on Jackson's bad past experiences as it would be to remember his immense talent and the songs that were so much a part of my life as I was growing up.
What is tougher is to describe the lives of these seven brave Americans who were blown up - murdered - in a rough, cruel, terrible foreign land. We don't know anything about them. But in another way we do. We know what they symbolize.
They symbolize the very best of our nation. They symbolize honor, bravery and sacrifice. They represent greatness. They represent security for my family and me, and for yours and you.
For all we know, a few of the soldiers might have had rough patches in their own personal lives. Perhaps not. But just as we could be thrilled watching Michael Jackson doing his famed "Moonwalk," we sure as hell could take time out to notice these brave men and women who are doing what most of us never have or never would: fight and die for this country.
I am but one of hundreds of nationally syndicated columnists. In getting noticed by me there is no cachet of a Barbara Walters or a network anchor to imprint on the brief biographies of the fallen soldiers. But I can try to do them justice. So here, with my "ticket" in hand, I will mount my own platform and speak for the many who I know would join me.
Thank you to the fallen warriors. Thank you for dying for me and for every other American. Thank you to your families who knew you were in harm's way, performing heroic tasks that really mean something. Tasks that might decide in years to come whether passengers on some airplane, or workers in some high rise will live or die.
No, there will likely be no JumboTrons at the final services for these fallen soldiers. The last music that their loving families and friends will hear will be the simple melody of "Taps." And then the heroes' closest relatives will be handed that beautiful flag. It won't equal the gold and flowers for a king. But it will be all this nation can offer to heroes.
If you ask me, I'd rather have the flag.