Monday, August 31, 2009

National Make Yourself Feel Real Good About Yourself Day

So I get this letter from President and Mrs. Obama, telling me of an exciting new opportunity. They're from the government, and they're here to help them. Or something: I confess I'm a bit fuzzy on the details.

Details really don't seem to be the strong suit of these people. I mean, other presidents you could understand. When Clinton said, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman," you knew he meant "I had sexual relations with that woman." When Bush Jr. said, "If you're not not with us you're with the terrorists," you knew that was exactly what he meant and if you didn't believe it the CIA just might invite you on an all-expenses-paid trip to Yemen in a leased Beechcraft. But when these people talk, I don't always know what they mean. In fact, sometimes I get the impression they're not really very eager for me to know what they mean. Sometimes they use words - sometimes they use them over and over - that bring a certain line from Inigo Montoya to mind.

[fake spanish accent]"You keep using that word. I don' think it means what you think it means."[/fake spanish accent]

But I don't really know what they think it means.

Anyway! The letter.
This year, for the first time, the United States will honor September 11 as a National Day of Service and Remembrance. Eight years ago, the tragic events of that Tuesday morning inspired Americans to come together in a remarkable spirit of unity and compassion. In that same spirit, we call on all Americans to join in service on September 11 and honor the heroes of that dark day as well as the brave men and women in uniform who continue to protect our country at home and abroad.
The document goes on for four paragraphs in total, and never once defines what the Prez and his Mrs. mean by "service." However, they do suggest the following:
We encourage you to visit and find a volunteer opportunity in your neighborhood or download tools to create your own project with family and friends.
Well! Being a patriotic red-blooded etc., - and seeing as I'm inside housesitting a sick dog and have nothing better to do - I rushed my patriotic ass right over to the website in question!

This year we commemorate the first September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance. The tragic events of September 11, 2001 inspired Americans to come together in a remarkable spirit of unity and compassion. It was a stark reminder that our fate as individuals is inherently tied to the fate of our nation. Eight years later, September 11 continues to evoke strong emotion and is an homage to sacrifice and a call to action.

In April, President Obama signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act which, for the first time, officially recognizes September 11 as a National Day of Service and Remembrance. This year, on September 11, the President, the Corporation for National and Community Service, MyGoodDeed and the 9/11 families will ask all Americans to remember that Tuesday eight years ago and recommit to service in their communities throughout the year. We encourage you to continue to promote service by commemorating this milestone through the United We Serve initiative.

And I read the whole intro page. And they still don't define what the hell they mean by "Serve."

So now I'm getting so pissed off I do what I almost never do at a government (definition: You paid for it) website, I clicked another link.

Learn More>

Ah! Now we're getting somewhere!
What can you do?


* Find an opportunity to serve

* Stay connected and spread the word
Hm. Y'know, this isn't a lot of help. I have learned that the United States Government could use a good copy writer, but I'm not volunteering for that. I do have my pride, and there are some jobs I just won't take.

Okay, what began as an idle web-click has now become a crusade. I WANNA KNOW WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT, BARACK AND MICHELLE! Work with me here, fergodsake!

So I click on a link that promises to tell me all about one of their success stories, in hopes that it will lend me a clue:
The US Department of Commerce is answering the President's call to service through an all-volunteer "Green Team" at our headquarters building in Washington, DC.

The Team is comprised 134 volunteers with representatives from the Office of the Secretary and all seven Operating Units located at, or nearby, the Herbert C. Hoover Building (HCHB).

The purpose of the HCHB Green Team is to promote energy awareness and environmental stewardship throughout the Department of Commerce through efforts in the HCHB.

Recently the Green Team held a cell phone drive to benefit Doorways for Women and Families, a non-profit organization that strives to end homelessness and family violence by offering safe shelter and housing to women and children.

Additionally, the Green Team participated in the Department of Commerce's Annual Earth Day Fair, assisting with distributing information, handing out plants and Earth-themed items, and organizing environmental activities for children.
WTF does any of this feel-good, taxpayer-sponsored bullshit have to do with 9/11? Or with anything else? I am now not only perplexed, I'm getting really bent out of shape. I wish those 134 "volunteers with representatives" had stayed home that day.

Undaunted, I clicked the second link. There are only two. And there I found:
In 2005, the Pierre School District found a need to begin a student health profile on each high school student. The task of screening their 900 students for health risks seemed daunting. As they often do, RSVP volunteers from Central South Dakota RSVP came to the rescue.

Over the last 4 years, nearly 30 volunteers have helped with this important student health event. Retired nurse Ann H. looks forward to picking up her blood pressure cuff again as she faithfully volunteers for the event since it began. “I enjoy being able to meet the children, being introduced to friends of my grandchildren”, remarked Ann when asked why she keeps coming back to this event.

“This is a popular event, we never are short of volunteers who want to help contribute to the long term health of area youth”, says RSVP Director, Katie Nagle. Under the supervision of the school nurse, the volunteers record height, weight, blood pressure and help with registration during the four day long screening process.

“It’s a good feeling to use my skills to volunteer and help the school. I hope I get to do it again next year,” say Ann.
Well, okay, but setting aside the collectivist nature of the event, ("the Pierre School District found a need to begin a student health profile on each high school student?" Why?) it's been going on for four years. The "Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act" didn't start it, or have anything to do with it. I know I say this a lot when discussing the government, but...WTF?

At this point I run out of steam, or interest. As far as I can tell, nobody at the White House has actually given a lot of thought to the "National Day of Service and Remembrance."

And you know what? Maybe that's a good thing.

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