The Cartoonist With No Name Stands Up For the Homeless Heroes With No Name, Either

By Brent Budowsky

July 6, 2006

The Fourth of July has ended, the fireworks are over, the bands have gone home, the politicians have finished their campaign rounds, the tragedy of homeless American veterans remains unconscionably with us today.

The early Clint Eastwood westerns were about the "man with no name". I was moved to write this note after seeing the brilliant and important cartoon reprinted here. The cartoonist with no name, like many progressives who do brilliant work, receives virtually no support from high level progressives of means. The homeless vets with no name deserve infinitely greater love and support than they get from our society that waves flags while we listen to our iPods, drive our SUVs, count our money market funds, and send our young men and women to desert sands to fight our wars.

Whether we support or oppose the policy in Iraq, can we agree on this? It is morally and patriotically wrong to have homeless and hungry American veterans in the hundreds of thousands, whom we walk past so casually on the street.

It is morally and patriotically wrong to have so many American vets severely and even 100% disabled who receive paltry support from our government without a rousing call to action from our people. It is wrong that so many troops are sent to battle without armor protection and even sometimes enough bandages, wrong that previous generations of veterans are having relapses of post traumatic stress syndrome contracted in previous wars.  Yet  we are still not roused to action and conscience worthy of the crisis so many of our heroes face.

I propose we coin a term, and repeat it often: homeless heroes.

The cartoon here sums it up perfectly, a truly wonderful blend of journalism and art; the brief and simple message of his picture tells the story better than all my words. Had the cartoonist been a conservative he would have received calls from the Richard Mellon Scaifes, syndication deals with conservative publications, and the support and promotion that conservatives give conservatives, but progressives of means, shamefully and inexplicably, rarely give to progressives who do the work that often matters the most.

So while the politicians wave the flag on the 4th, the partisans and ideologues dish out the trash talk of treason, a nation waiting to be roused by the call of conscience and community suffers fools who speak falseness to power, while we walk by the nameless and voiceless heroes on our streets, passing along cartoons penned by hands with no name, with the message of goodness, truth and patriotism of the real America.

So let us look at his picture and be moved, and at this moment of crisis for our country, and crisis for these heroes, let us act.

Instead of answering the charge of treason in kind, we should put our idealism and patriotism forward to give voice to these heroes, to those who serve and suffer, to those who deserve our support on the 5th of July, and the 6th of July, when the fireworks are stilled, the bands go home, and the empty speeches of partisans are filed in the forgettable bins of gestures without substance, and politics that does not matter.

Like Washington crossing the Delaware, we should reach out to Americans across the great divide of our national divisions, to the tens of millions of Americans in military families and military communities, to the hundreds of millions of Americans in the houses of worship of the land who will stand with us, and with our heroes, and with those who are hungry and homeless whoever they may be, wherever they may be found.

To the progressive politicians, especially the Democratic heroes with military service records of bravery and honor, John Kerry, Wes Clark, Max Cleland, Bob Kerry, Daniel Inouye, Jack Murtha, John Glenn: tour the halls of Congress and the community centers of America for policies dramatically more visionary and more powerful than anything on the agenda today. Let us win our war to end homelessness among veterans, and escalate in their name our war against homelessness and hunger, wherever those ills curse our land.

To the entertainers: build on the great works by so many and champion the cause throughout the nation and the world through the USO, with the churches, among our military families and patriots everywhere. Let us light up the sky with our stars, to light up the lives of our homeless heroes.

To the blogs and the internet news sites: bring out the facts, publicize the wrongs, champion the solutions that will set things right and let us move the heart of the American spirit and the American soul with the message of the Star Spangled Banner, the Sermon On the Mount and the Battle Hymn of the Republic.

To the financiers, capitalists, progressive men and women of means: understand you have failed us, as powerfully as your conservative counterparts have fought their fight far more effectively than you, with results so obvious. It is time to join the fight, to share the cause, to put your money where your talk is, as the conservatives do. To stand with those who have the idealism, the patriotism, the people, and the message who carry the true torch of freedom and progressivism in the tradition of Jack, Bobby, Martin and FDR.

As one of our greatest would say, if he were with us today, sometimes we do things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.  So I propose we say this: We pledge ourselves that by hundredth day after the inaugural of our next President there will not be one homeless or hungry or hurting veteran of any war, from any time, any place in America, and that our real battle only begins on that hundredth day.

That we rally the idealism of our young people to reach for the skies of what is possible in America.

That we stand together to bring our patriotism of idealism and aspiration to the houses of worship, veterans halls, and town meetings of the nation.

That no matter how great the crisis, we stand for an American family that is a house with many rooms, a home without homelessness, and a land where everyone has a name, a voice, and a future worthy of this blessed place, America.

Brent Budowsky served as Legislative Assistant to U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen, responsible for commerce and intelligence matters, including one of the core drafters of the CIA Identities Law. Served as Legislative Director to Congressman Bill Alexander, then Chief Deputy Whip, House of Representatives. Currently a member of the International Advisory Council of the Intelligence Summit. Left goverment in 1990 for marketing and public affairs business including major corporate entertainment and talent management.

To take Brent up on his challenge to eradicate homelessness among veterans, send him a message at brentbbi@webtv.net.

The Huffington Post version of this essay is available here.