Sunday, March 27, 2011

The One Percent

I wrote this article some time ago but I become convinced after every drive that our Winston-Salem donors are an exception to the norm, that they are indeed part of the "one percent" who are serving.  That's why I think it important to leave on our blog.   dha 10/16/2011

Recently I read an article in The Washington Post about Marine Corps Lieutenant General John Kelly.  Last November LTG Kelly lost his Marine Corps son Robert to a land mine in Afghanistan, becoming the most senior officer to lose a son or daughter in Iraq or Afghanistan.  Losing his son led the general to comment, in sometimes emotional terms, on the growing divide between our military and the society it serves.  He echoed the concerns of many soldiers and Marines that the American public is largely unaware of the price the military pays to defend our nation.  Less than one percent of our population serves in the military, and the American public, by and large, does not appreciate and understand the sacrifice made by those serving and their families.

Many Americans, of course, do support our troops who are on the front lines; they pray for our sons and daughters, and give of their time and treasure.  We have all heard of the many people who send packages and cards to those serving overseas, of those who greet our troops as they return home, or those who help build homes for our wounded warriors.  All these acts are important and mean more than just putting a yellow sticker on your car.  They are important, even if they do not quite fully address the point made by LTG Kelly and others, that there seems to be largely an air of indifference on the part of the American people towards those serving in the military.

As I read the article and shared in the general’s pain and loss, I could not help thinking of our Winston-Salem blood donors.  Most of them are not part of the “one percent” who are serving in our military.  Many of our donors have family or friends who have served in Iraq and/or Afghanistan; some are veterans of those conflicts and they understand the sacrifice more than most of us.  But many more have no connection with the military at all; they just know that our troops need our support -- and so they show up at our drives and donate their life-giving blood.  Some have done so since the first drive in May 2005.

None of us know what happens to the pint of blood we give at any given drive, other than the fact that it ends up in Iraq or Afghanistan.  It would be nice if it sat on a shelf and expired for want of need.  Sadly, that is probably not the case, and it will likely be used to help save the life of a wounded soldier or Marine.  The few minutes it takes to donate that blood will help give a lifetime back to a wounded warrior.

I like to think of our military blood drives as part of a process, or chain, that connects the people of Winston-Salem to those who are serving in the harsh world of the combat soldier and Marine.  It starts when a housewife, single mother of two, retired military person, a grandfather or grandmother, a lawyer, computer specialist, a retiree, a citizen of this wonderful community, donates a pint of blood.  That blood moves along this long chain and ends up in the body of a young person in desperate need of its life-giving properties.  The wounded warrior does not know it, but the blood has come from someone who understands their sacrifice. Someone who, by giving blood, has become part of the “one percent” that serves this nation.

Don Adamick

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