Hungry for the Holidays

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By Adam Weatherall

 

12/10/2013

 

Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!”” cries she

with silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

 

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When Emma Lazarus penned these famous words over 130 years ago in her epic poem “The New Colossus” she did not know how significant they would become to our country. Sadly she died before the words were immortalized on a plaque hungry for the holidays 2mounted to the front of the statue of Liberty. Since that time the words have come to symbolize the very tenacious spirit that is America guiding us through our nation’s infancy, to the superpower we have become today. True, to this day there are many tired and poor Americans and just as in those times we still have teeming masses at our shores but what unites us all is the way we all “yearn to breathe free.” And while many Americans don’t have a choice as to whether or not they should go hungry (regardless of the festive season) some are choosing to be “Hungry for the Holidays”. In the hopes to draw attention to their causes, a few courageous people have taken drastic action in this the season of gluttony.

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So this X-mas while you stack your plate to near epic proportions you might want to first take notice of the grumbling stomachs down in Washington D.C. where a group of activists is refusing food for immigration reform. Since Nov. 12, the immigrant rights activists, who have set up a tent in front of the Capitol, have been on a hunger strike, urging the House of Representatives to vote for an immigration reform measure already approved by the Senate. According to the A.P. {Associated Press} the President and the First Lady visited individuals taking part in ‘Fast For Families’ last week, to offer their support for those fasting in the National Mall. The reform, which would bring one of Obama’s major 2008 and 2012 presidential campaign promises to fruition, was adopted by the Senate on June 27.The Senate plan, crafted and approved with Republican support, would give some 11 million people living illegally in the U.S. citizenship under strict conditions and after a minimum 13-year transitional period. Last week the President took a rare moment to stand with those going hungry to bring change. This week however the administration announced that it will no longer be giving information on the detainees in Guantanamo who are currently in the midst of their own hunger strike.

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    In an email statement delivered to the press, Navy Cmdr. John Fiolstrat, a spokesman for the military’s Joint Task Force-Guantanamo, stated, “JTF-Guantanamo allows detainees to peacefully protest, but will not further their protests by reporting the numbers to the public. The release of this information serves no operational purpose and detracts from the more important issues, which are the welfare of detainees and the safety and security of our troops.” The U.S. currently holds 164 men at Guantanamo, most without charge. President Barack Obama campaigned to close the prison upon taking office …but was thwarted by Congress who imposed restrictions on transfers and releases. The military has long offered members of the media highly scripted tours of the detention center and would provide general information about prisoners, though not identifying them by name. A mass protest over conditions this year peaked in July with 106 prisoners participating in the protest. The last statistics given to the press show that there were 15 men on hunger strike, up from 11 in mid-November. Yet another clandestine move by this “the most open administration in history” to consider as you stare down your dinner plate on your dining room table. But before you loosen your belts and go back for seconds this holiday season take another moment to consider that there are nearly 49 million Americans that go to bed hungry every night against their will.

    That statistic was provided by the organization Feeding America. Feeding America is the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief charity. They describe their mission as being to feed America’s hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks and engage our country in the fight to end hunger. They are also a helpful resource for statistics concerning the hungry for the holidaysAmerican hunger epidemic. According to them and the U.S census bureau nearly 50 million people live in “food insecure households”. Surely when 1 in 6 of your country men (and women) suffer from one singular plight it must be considered an epidemic. But with a full stomach, in this the richest nation on the planet it is often times hard to hear the low murmur coming from our neighbors empty stomachs. So if you’re hungry this holiday season, remember to visit FeedingAmerica.org and find your local food bank. Remember you needn’t go hungry this holiday season, unless of course you’re striking to quicken the universe’s bend toward justice. But before we here at Powerfist.US break our daily bread this Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanza or even for the adventurous “Festivus”, we will remember those currently protesting in the same pacifist resistance style popularized by Mahatma Gandhi, and stand in solidarity. One day I hope hunger is eradicated from our American Landscape, and not just during the holidays but all year round. But until that day I hope logic will prevail.

Adam Weatherall
Adam Weatherall
Adam Weatherall is the political correspondent for PowerFist.Us a company whose mission is to spread truth and justice to all within it's reach, but more specifically to cover news stories that are often times pushed aside by larger media organizations.