Friday, July 10, 2009

We Celebrate Our Celebrities Too Much, and Our Soldiers Too Little



Michael Jackson’s death and funeral have received intense media coverage in the past week. The day of his funeral, there was virtually nothing else on television. Was it too much?

That question has been posed by Martha Gillis, the aunt of 1st Lieutenant Brian Bradshaw, a soldier who died on the same day that Jackson did. Gillis wrote to the Washington Post: “Where was the coverage of my nephew or the other soldiers who died that week?”

To be sure, Michael Jackson is an important man. Controversies aside, plenty of news has come out detailing his life as a humanitarian. And no one can doubt that he made lasting contributions to music and pop culture. His album “Thriller” was the best-selling album of all time. Jackson will go down in history and rightfully so.

Still, I can’t help sympathizing with the sentiments of Ms. Gillis. It must be frustrating to know that a soldier who gave his life as a selfless sacrifice for his country will get little recognition. But that is unfortunately how things work. Celebrities get more attention than people who aren’t celebrities.

Most Americans couldn’t name a soldier who has died in the past year in Iraq or Afghanistan, but they can tell you won American Idol. I truly wish it weren’t this way. I wished we esteemed people who serve us—our veterans, teachers, and pastors—as much as we esteem our professional athletes and movie stars.

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