WILL WE STILL LOVE PARADES?
By Joseph J. Honick - A Guest on 21st Century Radio shows
Read More Joe Hoenick
The nation's capital has always been a great place for those pleading one case or another to stage mass demonstrations, parades and other gatherings to get the attention of government, media fellow believers and opponents alike.
World War I veterans who had been promised $500 bonds for their service set up shabby cardboard and tent encampments from which to plead to a hypocritical Congress that delayed those payments. To clean up the situation, none other than General Douglas McArthur and his trusty aide, Ike Eisenhower, were dispatched with troops and the right to use arms against those veterans.
Then those who finally said they were not going to suffer second or third class citizenship launched the civil rights campaign that wound up in a parade of hundreds of thousands, including this kid, and concluded with the historic "Dream" speech by Dr. Martin Luther King at the feet of the Lincoln Memorial.
Then we have seen former Congressman Dick Armey's army of Tea Party screamers defying the idea that all Americans need and deserve medical care and with taxpayer help if necessary. Having upset town hall meetings with shouts that accused the President of being another Hitler, they then marshaled their forces to descend upon Washington, D.C. to make their cases and pose for the media, no doubt fortified in some measure by help from the insurance industry. Still more recently, the gay and lesbian community powerfully presented its own concerns in Washington and have demonstrated a clear commitment to reinforce that part of the Pledge of Allegiance that concludes with "….with liberty and justice for all." The one group that has yet to come together is the growing masses of the unemployed, especially the millions for whom all benefits have been exhausted and who represent huge numbers families, school children across the nation.
The happy headlines reciting the Dow Jones finally soaring above the 10,000 mark are not lost on these ordinary folks who received no bailouts, bonuses or much else as their homes are foreclosed, their credit destroyed, seen college tuitions unpaid and all the rest. And all these severe events have occurred as these people read about massive bailouts of banks, corporations and other institutions who are likewise paying out huge bonuses to people who remain in top positions courtesy of the American taxpayer.
These Americans will not remain quiet for long and are extremely fertile candidates for some clever agitator for action, having seen others getting the attention for other causes. It is hardly an exaggeration to note that, among the millions hit by layoffs and losses of benefits, have been some very capable professionals from the media, public relations business and related fields who know how to organize and communicate powerful messages ... and ultimately perhaps to organize a march on Washington the likes of which have never been seen except perhaps for the civil rights effort. Not the least among the millions of former taxpayers are the families of men and women dispatched over and over again to risk their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan ... after all seldom does military pay cover the total needs of a family.
Nearly 20 years ago, in a talk before an industry group in Seattle, Washington, I proposed the concept of a Public Relations Peace Corps to help communicate messages to and for the people who have no spokespersons and whose causes are quite legitimate and to get those causes and claims more attended to by government and others. The idea was scoffed at by representatives of some well known PR firms, many of whom have been since scooped up by larger organizations. The community of communications professionals has an opportunity and an obligation to consider taking some risks to help gain critically important attention to growing needs of the people lost among the turmoil of name calling and countercharges over health care and other issues.
So where is the outrage from those who have been sucking off the government breast while screaming about socialism when it comes to the poor? Where is the sense of religious leadership that demands prayers everywhere but ignores the homeless?
If leadership from our industry fails to use the talents we sell to others in efforts to gain attention to the unattended, the old song "I Love A Parade" may never be played again as millions of the newly impoverished swarm into Washington amid the glare of national and international media spotlights and the relevance and reputation of America are tarnished beyond measure ... while ignoring "liberty and justice for all," except for some.