Today’s is a personal blog. Monday is Memorial Day. It is traditionally the day we celebrate the men and women who have served our country in our armed forces. One of the things that I have long rued was the manner in which returning veterans were treated when they came home from Vietnam, no parades, no congratulations, no thank you for serving. In my mind one of the best things to come out of the first Gulf War was the change in how our returning veterans were treated. When they first landed on American soil, at Bangor, Maine, cheering crowds were there to greet them. I find this to be right and proper. And while I disagree with 99.99999999999999999% of what Governor Goodhair says and stands for I do agree with his suggestion that there be a national parade for the veterans of the Iraq War.
But as I said today is personal. I want to especially honor the men and women who served our country in World War II. I certainly view them as “the greatest generation” for a whole host of reasons, not in the least their collective fight against the forces of evil in the world. Name any right you hold sacred as an American and the men and women of that era fought to defend it. Right to vote, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, are but a few. However, there are many other rights that might you might not think of that we owe to these men and women who fought and sacrificed for us during this conflict.
My father served in that conflict. He is still alive and kicking today at 85. For the past 40 years he has been a labor arbitrator. He believes that working people should have due process regarding their jobs and as an arbitrator he has put that belief into practice by requiring companies who terminate employees to follow the due process requirements of termination for just cause. Put another way, if an employer is going to deliver a death penalty sanction in the workplace, in the form of job termination, it must do so fairly and justly. This does not prevent management from exercising its rights or prevent management from running its business. At a bare minimum, it means that a company must have an agreed upon disciplinary process in place and that process must be followed if the company is going to terminate an employee. A company must investigate and it must allow an employee to tell his or her side of the story, the employee must have the right for union or other representation in the process and the final appeal of any termination must be made by someone other than the original decision maker. In other words, the fair process doctrine. It is one of the rights which the greatest generation defended in that conflict.
So on this Memorial Day, I honor my father and all of the other ever-dwindling number of World War II veterans for their part in making this country the greatest country in the world. I would ask each of you to honor our veterans on Memorial Day in your own way, even if it is just a moment to reflect on those who made the ultimate sacrifice in giving their lives or those who raised their right hands and swore to protect the rest of us.
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© Thomas R. Fox, 2012