Ben Stein's Diary

A Vegas Veterans Day

Too much whining, not enough gratitude.

By 11.14.11

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Friday
Here I am in Las Vegas. It is jammed tonight with men and women here to gamble, to watch a boxing match, to get married. Someone has put it out there that 11/11/11, which this is, is a super lucky day to get married. There were apparently dozens of marriages in this hotel, The Wynn's, today.

I got up early to do my usual Fox show, Cavuto on Business, from a studio here in Vegas, came back to my room and slept, slept, slept. I have been traveling like a madman lately. That's worn me out. Plus, I have had some really bad stomach problems lately and they wear me out.

Plus, some people whom I thought were close friends, well, one close friend, has been causing me a lot of anguish. It is extremely hard when people close to you turn on you. Hey, at any rate, today is Armistice Day and it's pretty silly of me to complain about a mean-spirited former friend when I compare what our brave soldiers, Marines, sailors, Air Force people, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marine went through in World War II and in every other war -- including the ones we are fighting now.

Yes, people are always trying to get money out of me, but that's nothing compared with having people trying to kill me. Yes, out there in Iraq and Afghanistan, terrorists are trying night and day to kill our brothers, sisters, children, friends, compatriots. We really have little to complain about back here in the homeland. I walk around the casino here at Wynn's and I am stunned at how many drunk, laughing young men and women are here. Their brothers -- often literally their brothers -- are being rocketed and sniped at just to help other people to be free and to keep the terrorists off balance. The rest of us are whining in Vegas.

Think of what it was like to be a merchant marine sailor in WWII and be torpedoed and freeze to death on the Murmansk run. Think of what it was like to be a prisoner of the Japanese in a death camp or the hold of an unmarked prison ship. Or of what it would have been like fighting the Chinese at Cho-Sin or the North Vietnamese at Khe Sanh. Think of the courage of these men and their families.

Yes, think of their families: the military wife is the backbone of freedom and human dignity for the whole world. We owe them everything.

From here in Vegas, my wife and I, on bended knee, send our thanks to those who serve and to their families. In a military family, make no mistake, the whole family serves.

Meanwhile, the election goes on. Democrats hurl accusations at Herman Cain. I feel bad for him. I have had allegations thrown at me and I know how it feels… not great. I like him. He just does not seem like a mean guy. Maybe I'm wrong, but I do find it sort of amazing that the Democrats can cheer the rafters down for Bill Clinton, proved to have had a sexual relationship with an intern at the White House, alleged to have had dozens of liaisons with women in Arkansas.… and just a whisper about Herman Cain gets them up in a dither.

Well… politics, right?

In the meantime, let me just tell you what I have told you, dear readers, many times before. I am not a saint. I am a pitiful fat old sinner who has done just about every bad thing a person can do. Just about every sin. I am not better than anyone else, including people in prison. I am just a person with every bad instinct and no better than Herman Cain or anyone else. Just bear that in mind. I try to be amusing and interesting, but I am not a particularly great person.

Especially not compared with the merchant marine on the Murmansk run.

Speaking of which, a few days ago I spoke at a Marine Birthday Ball in Rosemont, Illinois. The event was at a Crowne Plaza hotel and it was a fine hotel. But the event was overwhelming. There were about 1,000 Marines and their families at the ball. They were fit, brave, modest, good looking, with amazing stories about their deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The room just glowed with bravery.

Back in my room, I watched a documentary about World War II, Behind Closed Doors. The parts about the astounding cruelty of Stalin towards the Polish patriots just made me want to cry. The Poles are among the world's smartest, bravest, best-looking people. They are never given the credit they deserve for their heroism and intelligence, but we who know even a little bit about Poland know of their suffering and their courage, and we rejoice at their freedom. They paid for it in blood.

And here we sit at Wynn's.

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About the Author

Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes "Ben Stein's Diary" for every issue of The American Spectator.