Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

May 23, 2013

FROM THE VALLEY: FW: Usually you wouldn't see this here

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — I got an e-mail from my brother, Tim, the other day. It was one of those e-mails flagged with an “FW” letting me know that it was either a joke or sentiment interesting enough (hopefully) to make it worth reading. (Note: I appreciate it when people initiate a sense of editing and not send me junk — or even something slightly amusing — just because someone sent it to them.)

Although I seldom, if ever, put theses types of Internet messages in the column, I thought the subject matter was interesting enough to comment upon. I’ve since learned that this particular e-mail has been making the rounds. Nonetheless I’m going to repeat the gist of the message, just in case you’re not familiar with it. (If you’ve seen this thing and are unhappy with the column, blame my brother. If you like it … well, then ... it’s all about me and what a great article “I wrote” - isn’t it?)

Basically, the over-introduced tidbit stated: “When an American soldier loses his life in the course of defending his country, standard-operating-procedure is that the family gets a flag and a card of condolence and sympathy from the government.”

“Yet recently, when a National Basketball Association player (Jason Collins) announced he was a homosexual, he got a personal phone call from the president of the United States congratulating him on his courage.”

There it is. All together now: What’s up with that?

Not mentioned, in the e-mail was the fact that Michelle Obama, also chimed in with a Tweet that said “So proud of you, Jason Collins. We’ve got your back.” (I won’t go into the choice of wording.)

Here’s the deal: I’m not naive enough to think that the Office of the Presidency does not deal in public relations. Image is important. But this particular issue irks me. 

Sure! It would be nice if the president could personally call every family who loses a loved one in the line of duty, but it’s not realistic. That being the case, I don’t understand his (Obama’s) priorities and why he felt it necessary to call a gay athlete and congratulate him on his “courageous” act. 

There’s nothing wrong with being gay or admitting that you are — that’s not my point. It is what it is — and you are what you are. Period! But, seriously, when the president of the United States uses the word “courage” in a context such as this, I feel, it undermines its definition – and more importantly, its value. It should be reserved for heroes in combat (and such) who have made much bolder decisions under the risk of injury and/or death in the service of others.

There’s no doubt it took guts for Jason Collins to do what he did. But he did what he felt he had to do. I’m sure it wasn’t easy, but that’s life. We all make tough decisions along the way. He’s not the first – nor will he be the last – to face up to whatever speed-bumps one encounters along the highway of human existence.

I’m just not convinced his (Collins) action reached the level where the Commander in Chief, our president, has to single him out with a personal phone call to “congratulate” him on his “courage.” Not in light of all of those who have so proudly served our country – and never heard their phones ring. 

That’s the way it looks from the Valley.

Tom Valley is a Medina resident. His column appears every Thursday. Contact him at tvalley@rochester.rr.com.