Tuesday, November 20, 2007


There is one thing about this town that has really bothered me since the first time we drove down to The Strip, and that is the number of homeless in Las Vegas. True it is much easier to be homeless in this very mild climate than is it back in Minnesota. During the winter back home, you must be inside in order to survive the harsh cold, wind and snow. Out here, it is possible to live outdoors year around. You may be cold, but it is not a life threatening below zero cold like in Minnesota.

I was going to take pictures, but decided that the homeless, many by their own decisions involving addictions to alcohol, drugs, or gambling, but some because of their mental illness or other uncontrollable circumstances, don't deserve to be humiliated any further by having me post pictures, even of anonymous folks.

The street leading up to The Strip, is lined every night with dozens of free standing tents, sleeping bags, and people just sleeping on the sidewalk, covered by their light weight jackets and surrounded by their every worldly possession stuffed into a big black trash bag or a couple of smaller plastic bags from WalMart. Many have collections of aluminum cans or other treasures to sell or trade for food and/or drink. There are grocery store shopping carts also, filled with items that may come in useful to build a shelter or to share with equally destitute friends. Fortunately I didn't see any children among these homeless, but I am not so naive as to think that there are none. What we did see, however, were mostly middle aged or older men and women, the majority being men. I am willing to bet that a large number of those men are veterans, once proud protectors of our country, and now street dwellers, and in a city with a huge military base.

But the most disturbing part to me, is that those veterans are living on a street in horrible conditions, only a block and a half removed from the huge display of lights and sound displayed in the outrageously decorated casinos, filled with thousands of blinking, clanging slot machines, and where we saw a group of young men celebrating their right to drink themselves into unconsciousness, and throwing one hundred dollar bills like confetti on the black jack table. Ernie watched for awhile, I left, unable to comprehend this stupidity.

Granted, some of these folks are in this position because of their own doings and they probably don't even want help, but others are caught in the spirals of mental illness or disease, and they deserve help, especially those veterans who have given so much for their, and our, country.

On this Thanksgiving Day when we are counting our innumerable blessings, let's remember to give thanks for those who have kept us safe, and if there is any way that we can help the homeless veterans regain their health or dignity, we should consider doing so. Let's have a wonderful, family and food filled, warm and safe holiday. But let's also remember that some have none of those.

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