‘This country can’t be this broken’: Jon Stewart slams Americans absent from Memorial Day events

Comedian and advocate Jon Stewart is no stranger to the fight for getting veterans the care and respect they deserve, but as part of a Memorial Day weekend rally in Washington, D.C. he wondered aloud why so many others still are absent as he asked, “Where are the American people?”

As part of the 35th annual Rolling To Remember motorcycle run in the nation’s capital, organizers hoped to raise awareness for U.S. prisoners of war, the 82,000 service members considered missing in action as well as the struggles that have made suicide among veterans an epidemic. Stewart took the stage Saturday at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium to further promote a call to action in getting an iteration of the Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act signed into law.

During his fiery speech, the advocate noted some obvious points about the demographics of the crowd stating, “The people sitting behind me – it’s hard not to be here today and not get frustrated again. Because as I look out in the crowd, I see the same thing I always see: Veterans and their families and caregivers.”

What angered him nearly as much as the injuries afflicting the military service members, was the scant turnout of everyday citizens, “But where are the American people?”

As Stewart has frequently explained, burn pits used on military bases are believed to be the cause of numerous conditions caused by the inhalation of toxic fumes from refuse and waste doused in jet fuel, but the burden of proof has remained on the service member in establishing that cause. With genuine support from the American people, it wouldn’t take much effort to get the handful of votes still needed to get the PACT Act passed and make a difference in the lives of those suffering from conditions such as cancer.

“This is Memorial Day weekend. Man, you’re going to read the tweets this weekend. You’re going to look at the Facebook pages and you’re going to think to yourself, ‘Oh, does America love me. Boy, they love us,'” he continued at the rally. “You’re going to go to Applebee’s. They’re going to give you them baby back ribs. Probably 20 percent off, not even 10 percent, because of how much they support you.”

“And yet we come out here today looking for the support of the American people, and what do we have behind me? It’s veterans organizations. It’s veterans. It’s their families. This country can’t be this broken,” Stewart lamented.

Granting veterans and first responders the sort of disability benefits they need seems like a straightforward cause compared to what the advocate described as the overall poor condition for active duty military stationed in war zones. While he remained optimistic that a more than decade long fight to set this injustice right was nearly at its conclusion, he did make one poignant remark about the ineffectiveness of Congress and by extension the American voter.

“If we can’t do the simplest sh*t,” he said, “we have nothing.”


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