An Ugly Insult Against America’s Active Duty Military and Veterans
By Robert L. Rosebrock, Staff Writer
Since 1898, The United States Military Academy has had the words “Duty, Honor, Country” proudly emblazoned on its coat of arms and boldly engraved on some of its oldest buildings. The motto has become such a distinct code for Military leadership and loyalty to our country that this time-honored creed is firmly embedded into the hearts and minds of all who actively serve in our Armed Forces, regardless of his or her respective branch of service, or rank of duty.
In his famed “Duty, Honor, Country” speech given to the West Point Cadets in 1962, General Douglas MacArthur resolutely declared: “Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying points: to build courage when courage seems to fail; to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith; to create hope when hope becomes forlorn.”
The merits of the General’s remarkable speech are so profound that it is considered to be among the greatest in American history. Even more remarkable, he delivered it without notes when he was 84 years old. (Speech link is at the end of this article)
Beware of the Unbelievers
General MacArthur’s speech was not only profound and eloquently delivered, but his tribute was so singular in purpose that even a small child could understand the overwhelming meaning and importance of “Duty, Honor, Country.”
The General’s inspirational message notwithstanding, he also prophesied and forewarned: “The unbelievers will say they are but words, but a slogan, but a flamboyant phrase. Every pedant, every demagogue, every cynic, every hypocrite, every troublemaker, and I am sorry to say, some others of an entirely different character, will try to downgrade them even to the extent of mockery and ridicule.”
An Unbelievable Prophecy
The General’s prophesy seemed far-fetched considering we are presumably a grateful society that highly respects the men and women who defend our nation’s freedom and independence under the timeless tradition of “Duty, Honor, Country.”
Nevertheless, his prophecy became reality in 2006 when it was validated at the so-called “Gateway Landmark Plaza” at the front entry of the Los Angeles National Veterans Home, also known as the Greater Los Angeles VA Healthcare System, the largest VA in the nation.
There, at the Northeast corner of Wilshire and San Vicente Boulevards, one of the busiest intersections in West Los Angeles, the words “Beauty, Honor, Country” were shamefully engraved in stone and highlighted with bronzed letters.
This appalling display that belittles the rigors of Military “Duty” and tries to pass it off as quaint “beauty” is outright blasphemy against the legendary creed entrusted to the highest calling of public service, Active Duty in our Armed Forces.
While a small child could easily understand the reverent tribute to “those three hallowed words” in General MacArthur’s somber and patriotic speech, he or she would never be able to understand the mockery made of it, and even worse, believe it could be done so irreverently and inappropriately displayed on Veteran’s sacred property.
Woe Unto the Unbelievers
While the General forewarned that the “unbelievers” would someday say “Duty, Honor, Country” was just a slogan or flamboyant phrase, exactly who are these modern-day unbelievers that actually mocked and ridiculed this noble creed on the revered grounds of the National Veterans Home?
Are these unbelievers considered to be pedants, demagogues, cynics, hypocrites, troublemakers, or those of an entirely different character? Is it possible that they could actually be “all the above?”
Regardless of where the perpetrators truly stand in the General’s admonition of those who would eventually mock and ridicule America’s watchword, it was shamelessly construed and flagrantly executed by a wealthy homeowner group in neighboring Brentwood that operates under the ruse of “Veterans Park Conservancy,” which is not a Veterans organization by any stretch.
Nevertheless, this unsavory homeowner group used their wealth and influence to manipulate top echelon VA bureaucrats and powerful politicians into allowing them to plagiarize “Duty, Honor, Country” and egregiously engrave “Beauty, Honor, Country” on the same hallowed ground where Veterans are trying to heal from the ugliness of war.
One of the Believers
While General MacArthur’s prophecy about nefarious unbelievers eventually came true in Los Angeles, his speech also made patriotic believers and remarkable achievers out of some of the young Cadets who were in attendance that memorable day on May 12, 1962, at West Point, New York.
One such Cadet was a teenager named Eric (Ric) Shinseki, a 1965 graduate of West Point who credits General MacArthur’s “Duty, Honor, Country” speech as being a guiding force during his nearly four decades of distinguished Military service that ultimately led him to become a four-star General and the 34th Chief of Staff of our U.S. Army.
West Point Cadet Eric (Ric) Shinseki
U.S. Army Chief of Staff, General Eric K. Shinseki
Every year an Award is given to Army officers — Active, Guard and Reserve — who exhibit extraordinary leadership abilities and embody the ideals embraced by General MacArthur. The MacArthur Leadership Award program is jointly sponsored by the U.S. Army and the General Douglas MacArthur Foundation,
During a Pentagon ceremony on May 22, 2002, while serving as the Army’s Chief of Staff, General Shinseki presented the Awards and offered this advice to the newest recipients:
“Look after your soldiers — their training, their tools, their spirit — so that they are ready to do what is necessary when called upon. For it is in the courageous actions of our soldiers that continues the drumbeat of Duty, Honor, Country.”
In a letter to General Shinseki dated February 1, 2007, from the Association of Graduates, signed by its Chairman, Theodore G. Stroup, (Lieutenant General USAR Ret.), who declared: “For the 44 thousand graduates of West Point, your selfless service and leadership in our Army is unheralded. You epitomize the enduring values of our alma mater – Duty, Honor, Country.”
In 2009, General Shinseki was selected as a “Distinguished Graduate” of West Point’s United States Military Academy for being an exemplar of “Duty, Honor, Country.”
“Hawai’i’s Favorite Army Son”
On July 20, 2006, a new gallery was opened at the U.S. Army Museum of Hawai’i to honor General Shinseki’s distinguished 38 years in the Military, and titled “The General Erick K. Shinseki Exhibit.” The General is a native of Hawai’i’s Island of Kauai.
“My Name Is … SHINSEKI … and I am a Soldier”
A short biography, entitled “My Name is Shinseki and I am a Soldier” and written by noted author Richard Halloran, is illustrated with many photos from the General’s own collection.
“From our days at West Point, Ric Shinseki and I soldiered in the same Army for almost four decades. He has distinguished himself as a warrior in combat, as a commander who cares deeply about his soldiers, and as a leader steeped in the principles of Duty, Honor, Country.”
David A. Bramlett General, United States Army (ret) Commanding General, Forces Command 1996-1998
The book is available exclusively at the Hawai’i Army Museum Store and can be ordered on line. See link below
Soldiering on …
Although retired from the U.S. Army, General Shinseki is still soldiering on as the current Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
General Eric Ken Shinseki, 7th United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs
The Pride of “Duty, Honor, Country”
In a tribute to our Military men and women on Armed Forces Day in 1985, then- President Ronald Reagan proudly proclaimed: “This is a day we set aside to remember and thank those Americans who wear our country’s uniform and who serve our nation in so many places around the globe. Many are far from home, and things you and I take for granted — family, friends, all the good things that go with life in our hometowns — they’ve given all these things up for the sake of a challenge and to answer a call. The challenge is the task of defending freedom, and the call they’ve answered is summarized in three words: ‘Duty, Honor, Country.’“
George Putnam, the late legendary TV / radio talk show host, decorated World War II Marine, and a true American patriot always ended his popular “Talk Back” program with his thundering and vociferous reminder to his listening audience: “Duty, Honor, Country.”
The California American Legion honored George with a “Lifetime Achievement Award” for being an exemplar of “Duty, Honor, Country.” On behalf of the General Douglas MacArthur Foundation in Norfolk, Virginia, he was also presented with a parchment copy of the General’s “Duty, Honor Country” speech and a “Certificate of Appreciation” for embodying the credo of “Duty, Honor, Country,” signed by William J. Davis, Colonel USMAC (Ret.), the Foundation’s Executive Director,
General Colin Powell received West Point’s Sylvanus Thayer Award in 1998, and in his acceptance speech, declared:
- “West Point is driven by a simple code known throughout the land: Duty, Honor, Country.
- Duty — the mission, the troops, selfless professional service, a career of service, a lifetime of service
- Honor – – your word is your bond. Truth, honesty and character are your watchwords never to be forgotten.
- Country – – your oath to the country rests on our constitution, which rests on the will of the American people.“
U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye, chairman of the Appropriations Defense subcommittee and a World War II Army Veteran from Hawai’i, was awarded the Medal of Honor. In 2002 when he received West Point’s Sylvanus Thayer Award, General Shinseki, also from Hawai’i, was present at the ceremony.
After the ceremony, General Shinseki proclaimed: “Senator Inouye is not a West Point graduate but Duty, Honor, Country has been a part of his life as a soldier and throughout 43 years of public service in Congress. We were two great soldiers. We each took a different path, but followed the values of Duty, Honor, Country.”
Above and Beyond the Call of Duty
Duty with Honor is such a paramount responsibility in protecting our Country, that the Congressional Medal of Honor is the highest award given to an American Military member for bravery “above and beyond the call of duty” in action against an enemy of the United States.
Unfortunately, there are Military misfits who are charged with and convicted of “dereliction of duty,” and dishonorably discharged.
General George Patton, Jr., a West Point graduate and celebrated World War II Commander, understood the significance of duty to our country by summing it up succinctly: “Duty is but discipline carried to its highest degree.”
The overwhelming importance of “Duty” is so significant in America’s unprecedented creed of “Duty, Honor, Country,” that it is the very first word declared.
So, just how did changing “Duty” to “beauty” actually come about, why, and by whom?
Who’s Behind “Beauty Gate?”
In his speech, General MacArthur asserted: “The code which those words perpetuate embraces the highest moral laws and will stand the test of any ethics or philosophies ever promulgated for the uplift of mankind. Its requirements are for the things that are right, and its restraints are from the things that are wrong.”
Whatever the feeble and fabricated excuses are that have been made to justify this perverse gaffe against the Military code by a rogue homeowner group, they were disgracefully wrong, and their unbecoming conduct will forever remain an embarrassment!
Sue Young, who is not a Veteran, is the founder and executive director of Veterans Park Conservancy, which is not a Veterans organization.
Nonetheless, Ms. Young and her renegade homeowner group have coveted Veterans land for nearly a quarter-century with her unilateral, hell-bent plan to convert it from a century-old peaceful sanctuary for Veterans to heal from war into “the first community park in West Los Angeles in nearly 50 years,” and thereby creating her own fiefdom with a public park and entertainment center in what she labels “Central Park West.”
This homeowner group, in full cooperation with VA bureaucrats, designed the so-called Gateway Landmark Plaza and then hoodwinked the VA into donating $1 million of Veterans seriously needed healthcare money to build their pretentious wrought iron fence to “beautify” the entryway into Brentwood.
Then the uncharitable group plagiarized the West Point creed because they said it was their “mission to beautify Veterans property,” while being oh so careful not to mention that it was for their own benefit, or that it would be at the expense of 20,000 homeless Veterans in Los Angeles.
Insidious Forces Working From Within
On March 28, 2006, Ms. Young and her cronies dedicated the Landmark Plaza, the wrought iron fence, and the slanderous “Beauty, Honor, Country” debacle in “honor of our veterans.”
The sanctimonious group rubbed salt into this ugly wound by making it an exclusive occasion for the Westside mucky-muck, declaring attendance to be “by invitation only,” because of “security concerns.”
Veterans Service Organizations at large and everyday Veterans were not invited to this so-called dedication ceremony, even though it was held on Veterans property. In fact, the press release to the media declared: “Note to editors: Because of security considerations, this is an invitation-only event. Press I.D. is required. “
What “security considerations” could possibly be involved when it comes to Veterans being invited onto their own property? After all, it’s the Veterans who have courageously secured the safety of our nation, so why would they be considered a threat to the security of their very own property and at an event that is purportedly being dedicated in their “honor?”
And who anointed the “press” to be held in higher regard than America’s Veterans, and even more trusted? Have the leaders of this so-called “Veterans” organization conveniently forgotten that if it were not for America’s Veterans, there would be no “Freedom of the Press,” or any of our other taken-for-granted freedoms?
Because the powerful and wealthy homeowner group restricted everyday Veterans from being invited to their clandestine scheme of subverting the Deed of 1888 and desecrating America’s watchword, perhaps another of General MacArthur’s wise observations, proffered separate from his Speech, is applicable in sizing up this self-serving group: “I am concerned for the security of our great nation, not so much because of any threat from without, but because of the insidious forces working from within.”
Congressman Waxman’s “Duty”
Congressional Representative Henry Waxman, the elected public servant for the 30th Congressional District and a member of Congress for 36 years, is the entrusted steward whose District includes the Los Angeles National Veterans Home.
It is the Congressman’s fiduciary responsibility to oversee and protect the largest VA in the nation and to make sure that the Congressional Act of 1887 and the Grant Deed of 1888 are fully honored at all times, which is: “To be permanently maintained as a National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers.”
In brief, fiduciary responsibility is a “Duty,” and it means, among other things, that the entrusted steward must always act in the sole and best interest of the beneficiaries, and in this case, America’s Military Veterans and their sacred land at the National Veterans Home.
Left to Right: Zev Yaroslavsky, Los Angeles County Supervisor of the Third District, Sue Young, executive director of Veterans Park Conservancy (a neighboring homeowner group), Henry Waxman, U.S. Congressman of the 30th District, and Flora Gil Krisiloff, Westside Senior District Deputy to Yaroslavsky, and a vice president and board member of Veterans Park Conservancy.
Congressman Henry Waxman smilingly approves of the rendering that shows the pretentious wrought iron fence to beautify the entryway into Brentwood, which the VA was hoodwinked into donating $1 million of Veterans healthcare money so that the wealthy homeowner group could complete their convenient project. The concrete base of the fence on the lower right side of this rendering actually depicts the disparaging slur of “Beauty, Honor, Country.”
The Hidden Hand
As the entrusted steward overseeing the Veterans Home, why did Congressman Waxman endorse such a disgraceful project that insults America’s Active Duty Military and our nation’s 25 million Veterans?
Congressman Waxman and U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein are both listed as “Government Supporters” of the non-Veteran organization that originated and propagated the slur. Why would these two high-ranking members of Congress endorse a group that stooped so low to denigrate “Duty, Honor, Country,” particularly when the men and women who uphold this creed are currently engaged in two wars?
English Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881), responsibly cautioned: “Governments do not govern, but merely control the machinery of government, being themselves controlled by the hidden hand.”
Another major question amongst Veterans is why hasn’t Congressman Waxman endorsed the Resolution to “Protect a National Sacred Trust” authored by the Veterans Caucus of the California Democratic Party and adopted by the Board of Directors of the California Democratic Party … his own political Party?
“THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the California Democratic Party joins the American Legion, Veterans United For Truth Inc., the National Veterans Coalition, the Gathering of Eagles, We the Veterans, the American GI Forum, Military Spouses For Change, and Veterans For Common Sense, among others, along with hundreds of thousands of veterans and their families, to support an immediate halt to any giveaway of any of the Los Angeles National Veterans Home property, either to a non-veterans organization or for any non-veteran-related purpose.”
Why would one of the most senior and powerful members of Congress not support a Resolution by his own Democratic Party that provides for the protection of the Veterans property that he is entrusted to safeguard?
It seems that Congressman Waxman should have actually been the one to initiate and author this Resolution on behalf of America’s Veterans, instead of senior Veterans Bob Handy and Sanford Cook, the respectful Chairman and Co-Chairman of the Veterans Caucus?
Nonetheless, fellow Veterans are waiting for the Congressman’s endorsement of this noble Resolution, along with Senator Feinstein’s support as well.
We’re Still Waiting
Two years ago at a press conference held by U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, fellow Veteran Francisco Juarez and I gave the Senator a copy of the “Declaration of Enforcement,” which we co-authored as a no-nonsense guide to fully protect, preserve and defend the National Veterans Home in accordance with the Congressional Act of 1887 and the Land Grant Deed of 1888.
The Senator promised to read the Declaration and get back to us with her comments. Senator, we’re still waiting!
Opposing the Land Giveaway
Following is a partial list of other Veteran and Political organizations that support the Resolution authored by the Veterans Caucus of the California Democratic Party and/or have Resolutions or letters of support of their own opposing the public park and any other giveaway of Veterans property at the National Veterans Home.
Vietnam Veterans of America, National; American G I Forum of California;
AMVETS, Department of California; Los Angeles County Veterans Advisory Commission; 11th Airborne Association; Vietnam Veterans Against the War; Emerald Coast Patriots, Florida; Veterans-For-Change; The Veterans Revolution.
North Carolina Democratic Party Veterans Caucus; Los Angeles Democratic Central Committee; Santa Barbara County Democratic Central Committee; Progressive Democrats of Los Angeles; San Fernando Valley Republican Club; Westside Republicans (Los Angeles).
Left to Right: Mark Reed, candidate for the 27th Congressional District; Karen Bonadio, vice chairman of the Westside Republicans; Rob Pederson, chairman; and Ari David, candidate for the 30th Congressional District,
Westside Republicans support the Resolution of the Veterans Caucus of the California Democratic Party, but also have their own Resolution opposing the land-grabbing at the heralded Veterans Home in the 30th Congressional District. Members of the political group and Congressional candidates attended one of the Sunday Rallies to “Save Our Veterans Land.”
No Confiscation without Representation
Over the years, Veterans’ land has been pillaged, plundered, confiscated, and what seems to be, auctioned off to the highest political campaign donor with the lowest-bid offer. Unfortunately, this land and the accompanying buildings always end up under the control of a non-profit, non-Veteran organization, to “honor our veterans.”
Veterans are never officially invited to the bidding and negotiating meetings regarding their property. Specifically, Veterans land must never be used for a profitable business venture, self-dealing or any political opportunism. More specifically, honoring the Congressional Act of 1887 and the Deed of 1888 is the moral obligation and full responsibility of “We the People.”
In a positive outlook, California Congressional candidates Ari David, 30th District, and Mark Reed, 27th District, are both seriously opposed to the illicit confiscation of Veterans land at the VA facilities within their respective Districts.
Both candidates have promised that upon their being elected into Office, the first pieces of Legislation on their agenda will be to fully rescind all land and building leases on Veterans property at the Los Angeles and Sepulveda VA’s that are not for the sole, specific, direct, and unequivocal benefit of America’s Military Veterans.
It’s time that Veterans finally have some honest, upfront representation in the use of their property instead of the political pandering and backroom wheeling-and-dealing at the highest levels of government.
Over the years, Ralph Tillman, the director of Asset Management for the Greater Los Angeles VA Healthcare System, has facilitated numerous sweetheart deals with Veterans property for the benefit of non-profit, non-Veteran organizations that include giving away this sacred land, rent free, and leasing it for as little as $1 a year for 75 years.
How can our government can give Wall Street nearly a trillion dollars overnight and the best Mr. Tillman can do for Veterans is generate $75 in 75 years for their land? A drunken lunatic with absolutely no business sense could do far better than this.
During a recent meeting at the Los Angeles Veterans Advisory Commission, Mr. Tillman was asked why the VA has entered into leasing arrangements that generate so little return for Veterans, and Mr. Tillman responded: “In the VA’s opinion, this is the highest and best use of the land.”
In trying to comprehend the “VA’s opinion,” one has to seriously wonder what the lowest and worst use of this land could possibly be, and at what price.
Fun and Games
While Veterans were trying to heal from war, Mr. Tillman made a mockery of their service by leasing their hallowed ground to the Hollywood entertainment industry for a “Celebrity Carnival Fundraiser,” with the admission being $1,000+ per person, and the proceeds not going to Veterans.
A Public Playground Where Veterans Are Healing From War
“Highest and Best Use of Veterans’ Land”
Dereliction of Duty
Ralph Tillman spends an enormous amount of time accommodating the wealthy non-Veterans with specially-privileged land deals, for carnivals, and whatnot, while totally neglecting his primary “duty” as director and manager of Veterans’ assets, which encompasses protecting and managing all aspects of property at the largest VA in the nation, including such things as buildings, roads, sidewalks, bus benches, and other tangible assets supposedly for the benefit of Veterans.
The rise and fall of “Beauty Gate”
History will record that the defamation of “Duty, Honor, Country” on Veterans property was orchestrated by a group of renegade homeowners, complicit VA bureaucrats, and powerful politicians, and it marked a very dark period for our great nation. Fortunately, the infamous besmirching of this noble creed ended shortly after it was disgracefully “dedicated.”
No Rhyme or Reason
While an insensitive homeowner group thought it was clever that beauty rhymed with duty, there is absolutely no rhyme or reason as to why the VA bureaucrats and powerful politicians allowed this group to engrave it in stone on Veterans’ property.
Nonetheless, this egregious insult will forever be an embarrassment to those entrusted to protect these sacred grounds and for the welfare of America’s Veterans.
Consider this; if the VA bureaucrats, local politicians, and wealthy homeowners could not be trusted with three hallowed words of our Military, how can they possibly be trusted with 388 hallowed acres of Veterans’ property?
Quite simply, they can’t, and their “Dereliction of Duty” makes it very clear as to why so many Veterans are homeless because the “wants” of the neighboring fat-cats have shamelessly taken priority over the “needs” of America’s Veterans.
During the “battle of words,” some unknown yet proud Veteran(s) moved in and conquered “beauty” with their steadfast Duty, if only temporary before the VA police removed their giant “D” and small American flag.
Thanks to the brave, courageous and patriotic Veteran(s) that drew this large creative “D” that was placed over the letters “bea” of the word beauty, and thus correctly spelled out the true meaning of this time-honored motto of Military service.
The “D” was embraced by a small, but bigger than life American flag with a very humble and proud note penciled in that said “From: Veterans of all Wars, Past and Present!”
How simple, dignified, noble, profound and magnanimous! This was priceless art and peerless patriotism wrapped up in a timeless salute of gratitude to all that have served to protect our American way of life. This was “Duty, Honor, Country” unselfishly carried out to a wonderful sense of purpose and tribute.
“Word War Won”
The desecration of the West Point creed and its inappropriate display on Veterans property was finally conquered and surrendered.
After writing several articles in the “Greater West Los Angeles Business Monthly” and the “Brentwood News” about the degradation of “Duty, Honor, Country,” Colonel Buzz Aldrin, a 1955 West Point graduate, sent an e-mail asking: “How can I help?
We had a serious discussion about this fiasco and Col. Aldrin contacted fellow West Pointer Colonel James Nicholson, the then-Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs in D.C., and immediate action was taken to remove this embarrassing slur before Veterans Day in 2006.
It’s important to note that both Col. Aldrin and Col. Nicholson were selected as “Distinguished Graduates” of West Point for being exemplars of “Duty, Honor, Country”; Col. Aldrin in 2000 and Col. Nicholson in 2005.
This is how the concrete base of the multi-million dollar fence looked after the “Beauty, Honor, Country” debacle was removed and new concrete had been smoothed over and left to dry.
This is how “Beauty, Honor, Country” looked after the renegade cult was forced to remove their slanderous insult. While Veterans wanted the word “Beauty” replaced with “Duty,” the disgruntled and spiteful homeowner group removed all three words and the discolored panel remains a terrible eyesore at one of the busiest intersections in West Los Angeles, making it a true “landmark” and a constant reminder of this group’s perverted desecration on Veterans property.
“Ugly, Ugly, Ugly”
This is how the “Beauty, Honor, Country” calamity now looks in a photo taken on January 10, 2010. How could the VA ever entrust 16 acres of Veterans sacred land to such an insensitive group and allow them to build a public park to “honor our veterans” when this is how they care for the so-called “Gateway Landmark Plaza” at the entryway of the National Veterans Home and to their own community? As Judge Judy says: “Beauty fades . . . dumb is forever.”
REAL Stolen Valor
The absolute ugliness of all this outraged Web Thompson, an 86 year-old World War II Navy Veteran, who recently drove from Las Vegas to “pull duty” at one of our Sunday Rallies to “Save Our Veterans Land.”
Web stood solemnly observing the disgraced wall where the desecration occurred and summarized it in a succinct, stern, yet eloquent manner reminiscent of General MacArthur forewarning about the “unbelievers.”
“Replacing Duty with beauty is stolen valor. It is defacing government property. And it is graffiti. Why aren’t the perpetrators in jail?”
The Ugliness of Greed
Why would well-to-do homeowners who live in multi-million dollar mansions in neighboring Brentwood finagle a million dollars of Veterans healthcare money to beautify the entryway into their community in order to further enhance their own property values, at the expense of 20,000 homeless Veterans? Actually, nobody wants to know the answer to this question, because it is not only repulsive, but beyond comprehension.
An Act of Kindness
The Veterans land is a benevolent Gift from Arcadia de Baker and John P. Jones. The Land Grant Deed signed on March 3, 1888, states no less than six times that this land is “to be permanently maintained as a National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers.”
Veterans are extremely grateful for the two’s kind and generous Gift, and every year “Veterans Appreciation Day” is held on the first Sunday of March on the Veterans Grand Lawn, to pay tribute and celebrate the Land Grantors with an Annual Anniversary event.
An Act of Congress
The Deed is preceded and reinforced by an Act of Congress dated March 2, 1887, declaring “that a National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers be established, constructed and permanently maintained.” It further declares:
“That all honorably discharged soldiers and sailors who served in the regular and volunteer forces of the United States, and who are disabled by disease, wounds, or otherwise, and who have no adequate means of support, and by reason of such disability are incapable of earning their living, shall be entitled to be admitted to said home for disabled volunteer soldiers.”
The foregoing notwithstanding, there are countless Veterans in Los Angeles who suffer from a multitude of disabilities, yet Ralph Tillman and his fellow VA bureaucrats spend their time subverting the Land Grant Deed and Congressional Act to appease the neighboring fat-cats who want Veterans property for their own benefit and pleasure.
It is absolutely disgraceful that homeless Veterans are sleeping outside the chained and locked gates of their rightful Home.
How can we ask an individual to pledge his or her life for our country and be prepared to suffer life-long physical and mental wounds, and also be prepared to survive if they are held as a “Prisoner of War” or become “Missing in Action” in a foreign country?
Yet, none of these Patriots are trained or prepared to be a “Prisoner of Neglect” and “Missing in Action” within the same country they defended after their tours of duty are over.
How can we ask our Military men and women to go to war and pledge their lives to defend the Constitution of the United States when our government will not even defend their Land Grant Deed of 1888 after they come home as Veterans of the war?
Shamelessly, our country treats thug-terrorist prisoners at Guantanamo Bay far better than we treat our Veterans here in the United States who fought against these malicious evil-doers. Even dogs are treated better.
A Dollar a Year for Dogs, Zero for Veterans
While it costs American taxpayers over a million dollars per soldier to fight in the two ongoing wars, dogs are given more consideration than returning Veterans of war.
The VA leased 12 acres of Veterans’ land to the City of Los Angeles Recreation and Parks Department for $1 a year, and the City carved out two acres for an off-leash dog park that is overseen by the so-called “Friends of Barrington Dog Park.”
While homeless Veterans are sleeping on the outside of the National Home, carefree dogs are running around defecating and urinating on their sacred land on the inside while the dog owners consider this to be an entitlement.
As though having dogs freely cavorting around on Veterans property is not insulting enough, they are taken home to multi-million dollar mansions and pampered with luxuries we could only wish for.
By the way, did I mention there are 20,000 homeless Veterans in Los Angeles?
A homeless Veterans takes refuge on the outside of the Los Angeles National Veterans Home next to the ostentatious multi-million dollar Gateway Landmark Plaza and majestic wrought iron fence that was built with Veterans healthcare money to beautify the entryway into Brentwood, one of the wealthiest ZIP codes in the nation.
“Wall of Shame”
While some homeless Veterans sleep outside the front gate, others take up residency alongside the multi-million dollar wrought iron fence to “beautify” the entryway into Brentwood. The VA gave the already flushed homeowner group a million dollars of Veterans healthcare money to build this shameless wall. This is just another example of VA bureaucrats stupidly spending money to benefit sanctimonious special interest groups at the painful expense of America’s Military Veterans.
Another Ugly Reminder
The front gate to the Los Angeles National Veterans Home is chained and padlocked, an ugly reminder that Veterans are not welcome on their own property.
The “open space” behind the front gate to the Los Angeles National Veterans Home is the 16 acres that the neighboring homeowner group controls, rent-free, for a public community park.
The front gate remains chained and padlocked while homeless Veterans try to survive on the dangerous streets of Los Angeles, which is considered the “meanest city in the nation for the homeless,” according to the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty and the National Coalition for the Homeless.
The Beauty of a Tent City
During a recent trip to Hawai’i, it was interesting to see the homeless sleeping in tents on public parks and nobody seemed to mind or be bothered by it.
Even if having homeless living in tents is considered unacceptable in a public park, it would certainly be acceptable for Veterans to live in tents on their own property.
It’s imperative that the agreement for proposed public park on Veterans property is immediately rescinded in its entirety, and the 16 acres kept exclusively for Veterans and turned into a “Tent City” until more reasonable shelter can be arranged.
Less Means More
There’s been a proliferation of non-Veteran, non-profit organizations that are weaseling their way into controlling more and more of Veterans land at the Los Angeles VA and the Sepulveda VA in LA’s San Fernando Valley, including numerous other VA’s all across America.
These so-called “enhanced use” or “enhanced sharing” lease agreements with long-term privileged deals are nothing more than an illegal scam to steal from Veterans. There is absolutely nothing in any of these land-heist deals that benefit America’s Veterans and everything is for the benefit of non-Veteran organizations facilitated by VA bureaucrats and powerful politicians, and it is always done under the insulting guise of “honoring our veterans.”
Make no mistake; there’s a distinct parallel with the loss of Veterans land and the increase of homeless Veterans. In brief, less Veterans’ land means more homeless Veterans.
This ruthless and treasonous style of governance must end, posthaste!
Fighting the Domestic Enemy
The magnitude of General MacArthur’s “Duty, Honor, Country” speech cannot be refuted in the slightest by anyone who understands where our freedom and independence really come from, and that is the brave and selfless men and women who raise their right hand and take an Oath to pledge their lives to defend our U.S. Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
As we know, the Military Oath is open-ended with no expiration date. Accordingly, there are Veterans in their 60s, 70s and 80s who are now fighting the domestic enemy that has slandered and denigrated their honorable duty to our country.
Moreover, the domestic enemy has used their wealth and power to force unprecedented compromises at the highest levels of government to expropriate and confiscate Veterans sacred land while more than 20,000 of our fellow Veterans remain homeless on the dangerous streets of Los Angeles.
No Veteran Left Behind
The Land Grant Deed to the Veterans property is as sacred as the United States Constitution they pledged to protect and defend when they raised their right hand and solemnly swore: “I am prepared to give my life for my country.”
Like all those who serve in the Military, they pledged to make the ultimate sacrifice for the benefit of their fellow citizens. So, instead of building a public park that benefits neighboring homeowners while homeless Veterans are left behind on the streets, let’s open the front gates to their rightful Home and give them a chance at starting anew. That’s certainly a very small sacrifice to make for the very big debt that is owed for our freedom and independence.
General Omar Bradley, a World War II hero, reminded all Americans that “Sacrifice, not selfishness, must be the eternal price of liberty.”
“Duty, Honor, Country”
This time-honored creed encapsulates the most basic obligation for the perpetual guardianship of our great nation. Consequently, the words should not only be engraved on historic buildings at the West Point Military Academy or emblazoned on its coat of arms.
Nor should they be the rallying code for only those who actively serve in our Armed Forces. And most certainly, they should never be plagiarized and their bold and true mission be transmogrified into a perverted and sinister notion.
Instead, “Duty, Honor, Country” means exactly what it says and should be proudly displayed everywhere, all the time, because it’s the duty of each and every American to honorably preserve and protect our great country.
Equally important, it is our country’s honorable duty to serve America’s Veterans with the same equal commitment they gave with their honorable duty to serve our country.
Thus, we must never forget that future generations of America’s Veterans are depending upon us to look out for their best interests, just as previous generations always looked out for future generations of Veterans in protecting and preserving the revered Los Angeles National Veterans Home.
Our Mission is to bring 20,000 of our fellow Veterans who are “Missing in Action” and “Prisoners of Neglect” back to their rightful Home. In fact, it’s not even a Mission … it’s our Duty!
In the best interests of honoring America’s Veterans who faithfully served our nation, we respectfully request that Secretary Shinseki also join in this call of Duty by bringing an immediate halt to the shameless and disgraceful prostitution of Veterans property all across America.
Then take quick action to evict all non-Veteran organizations from these time-honored premises, demolish the old and obsolete buildings, and begin to re-build these noble National Veterans Homes with new, modern resident towers and dining halls.
If we are going to end homelessness amongst Veterans in the next five years as President Obama and Secretary Shinseki have promised, then we must re-invest in Veterans’ property so that we can invest in our Veterans’ future.
Simply stated, the $3.2 billion the VA has set aside for 2010 to end Veteran homelessness, must be used to build tangible Veteran assets and not build a more bloated bureaucracy.
If not General Shinseki, who? If not now, when?
In continuing his distinction as a Distinguished Graduate of West Point for being an exemplar of “Duty, Honor, Country,” Secretary Shinseki needs to send the neighboring homeowner group a clear message about the true meaning of Duty with Honor to our Country, and fully rescind their privileged public park agreement, posthaste.
Secretary Shinseki also needs to clean house at the largest VA in the nation by replacing the toxic management of upper echelon VA bureaucrats, beginning with Ralph Tillman.
Gordon Duff, Chairman of the Editorial Board of “Veterans Today News Network,” offers this straightforward advice: “The first thing you do when you clean your house is take out the trash.”
Secretary Shinseki can bring an end to the static and incompetent bureaucracy that has sent one of the most important Departments of our government into an ugly quagmire by replacing VA executive directors with newly retired Military Generals who are trained leaders and have a far better understanding of the men and women who have worn the Uniform, and will also respect their commitment to “Duty, Honor, Country.”
A General’s General
General MacArthur would be proud to know that one of the West Point Cadets who was listening to his “Duty, Honor, Country” speech in 1962 had not only faithfully executed the creed throughout his distinguished Military career, but is continuing to execute it during his enormously responsible Duty as Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“I slept and dreamed that life was Beauty;
I woke, and found that life was Duty.”
Ellen Sturgis Hooper,
American Poet (1816–1841)
To read or listen to General MacArthur’s speech, “Duty, Honor, Country,” go to:
Book: “My Name is … SHINSEKI … I am a Soldier”
Rosebrock is a U.S. Army Veteran, Vietnam-era, HQ USARHAW, Schofield Barracks. He is Director of The Veterans Revolution and Co-Director of We the Veterans.
U.S. Army, 1965-67, Schofield Barracks, Hqs., U.S Army, Hawaii. Director, The Veterans Revolution, Captain, the Old Veterans Guard, and Director, We the Veterans.