Merry Christmas

Posted: Dec 21, 2001 12:00 AM
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- It's that time of year again -- that point on the calendar referred to by the politically correct as "the holiday season." It's the time of year when "twenty-something" producers and programmers send forth their camera crews with instructions to "get some footage" at a soup kitchen, nursing home, homeless shelter or some other venue where the poor and downtrodden seek succor. It's the season when the barons of broadcasting set aside their usual headlines about blood, gore, death and destruction -- and don't forget sex -- to remind us of our "obligation" to our less fortunate brethren. Could it be that this is the only time the masters of the media have such thoughts? It shouldn't be that way. The American people are good and decent, and their human kindness, neighborly care and community interest are present all year. Most of us don't just trot out these sentiments when a disaster hits home or when Santa is making the final check on who has been naughty or nice. In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, television anchors and talking heads professed surprise at the compassion and generosity of Americans who contributed over $1.4 billion to relief agencies. Donations poured into groups like the Salvation Army, the Liberty Disaster Relief Fund, the Kiwanis and Lions Clubs, the Army Emergency Relief, and the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society. Religious charities of all stripes -- Catholic, Baptist, Jewish and others -- raced to the rescue. Many professing astonishment were the very same "cultural elites" who routinely vilify the so-called "Christian Right" for promoting the Golden Rule -- to "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" -- throughout the year. And so, in case you missed it because the "evening news" failed to cover it, herewith are a few more examples of why the so-called mainstream media don't get it. First, they apparently don't know that Americans are the most generous people on earth. In 1999, according to the AAFRC Trust for Philanthropy, Americans contributed over $190 billion to charities. In 2000, donations increased to $203 billion. Second, they are cynical. That's why some of my "colleagues" chortled when, on Oct. 11, President Bush established America's Fund for Afghan Children. Apparently, they don't want you to know that, since then, American children have raised $1.5 million, and the first shipment sent to Afghanistan on Dec. 10 included 1,500 winter tents, 1,685 coats and 10,000 packs containing hats, socks, toothbrushes, candy and toys. The cameras were somehow absent when Ashley, Aubrey, Alana and Alyssa Welch, whose father, Lt. Col. Tracy Welch, narrowly escaped the Pentagon crash, attempted to donate blood. Told they were too young, the girls organized four neighborhood car wash events and raised $10,000. But such deeds have been commonplace across the country, all year long. On Jan. 26, when a devastating 7.9 earthquake struck Gujarat, India, killing more than 100,000 people and injuring hundreds of thousands more, Americans rushed to the scene to help; and others back home sent money and care packages. Several engineers at Cisco Systems, a San Jose, Calif., technology giant raised $500,000 to aid the victims. Woody and Diane Jenkins run Friends of the Americas. Since 1984, they have assisted over 500,000 Latin Americans suffering from wars, natural disasters and poverty -- many of them children. Pat Robertson's Operation Blessing has aided over 140 million people and supplied over $96 million in relief since 1978. The organization is currently working to care for Afghan children, provide soup kitchens for Afghan refugees and provide assistance to the victims of earthquakes in El Salvador. Since Oct. 1, the U.S. government has sent almost $247 million of humanitarian assistance to Afghans in the form of food, medicine and medical supplies. While most of us have seen the Salvation Army's red kettles posted outside stores and malls, few in the media even seem to know that the USO, which supports our servicemen around the world, began as a "see a need -- fill it" Salvation Army project. When I visited the Pentagon, less than 24 hours after the 9-11 calamity, the Salvation Army was already there, giving exhausted fire, police and rescue workers free food and coffee. Somehow on-site reporters -- who got the same treatment -- failed to tell us. Freedom Alliance, a charitable and educational foundation that provides scholarships for the dependents of military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty, has, this year alone, awarded nearly $80,000 to youngsters whose parents died in the Pentagon, aboard the USS Cole last October, and in other places like Beirut and even Vietnam. Whether it was aiding Iowa flood victims, the 230 families that lost their homes in Kansas tornadoes last April, or the victims of the 6.8 earthquake in Seattle in March, Americans were helping their neighbors. The media may need to remind themselves to be nice and kind to others at Christmas. But for average Americans "doing unto others" is a way of life. God Bless America. Merry Christmas.