Memorial Day Thanks and Why We Celebrate

Every Memorial Day and every Veterans Day we pause to thank those who served and to reflect on the importance and meaning of those two days of the year by republishing a blog written several years ago, to give thanks to veterans of yesterday and today.

A few years ago, a local farmer came in to see me for some help. Bills and crop prices and debt had him over a barrel and we talked about bankruptcy and what it could and couldn’t do to help relieve his situation. He was a big strong man, the way some farmers just naturally are, both in his heart and his size. We were about the same age but he looked so much older.

His situation took about 5 months to get resolved but I will never forget the day that I learned that he was a chopper pilot in Vietnam about the same time as my older brother, Larry, was there. I had no clue and never would have guessed.

We both stopped what we were talking about, his own current problem, while he looked out the window and quietly talked about what it was like then, back in Vietnam. It was hard for me to look at this older and much heavier man and try to imagine what he must have looked like back in the days of 1966-'68. Now, he was mostly bald and probably weighed a lot more than he did back then, but like me he had been young once too. Now, he didn't move as quick as he undoubtedly did in 'nam either.

But you could tell from the distance in his eyes as he spoke that he had never really left it all behind him.

He talked about what it was like to fly a chopper in and out of valleys and hills and fire, dropping down as quickly as he could and picking up a wounded soldier or two and getting back out of there, wherever "there" was, as fast as he could. Nothing but plexiglass between him and the bullets.

He said he loved flying helicopters then, but that he was never in his life as scared as he was in those few minutes between the time just before he would land and when he was back out of the worst of the fire. He said they were the longest minutes of his life. He called it dodging a lifetime of bullets, scared to death that one of them had his name on it.

He had a dusty old baseball cap in his hand as we talked. It hung loosely in his hand as he gazed aimlessly out the window. It was from some team that didn't really matter, I'm sure. His eyes were never in the room with us as he calmly and matter-of-factly talked of how men died around him and also of those who came back like him.

You could tell he had memories he wished he didn't have. He said the worst feeling he had from the whole war was that every time he'd lift off the ground he knew that while he was getting out of there, he was leaving other boys behind. He'd fly away, his heart pounding loud in his chest, while the fighting went on below him.

After a long while, he stopped talking and we just sat there, not talking at all. I could see that things were going on inside his mind and I just didn't know what to say. I was dumbstruck by this seemingly now-gentle giant of a man who had been through hell. Truth be told, I didn't think I had a right to say anything at all. After what seemed like the longest time, both of us returned to the present moment. He never spoke about it again.

It's been years now. I don't even remember his name. Probably most of the guys he saved didn't remember it either. I haven't thought of him since then until my older brother sent me a recording he found on the internet, called God's Own Lunatics (click below) that explained what it was like to be one of those foot soldiers on the ground. I clicked on it, listened, and the memory all came back to me.

I recall that he was the son of a local farmer who had gone off to war and came back all grown up - to be his father's son, a farmer again. Something about beating your swords into plows seems appropriate for me to end this note but it also seems so trivial a thing to say. I can still recall his face.

We all owe veterans a whole lot more than any of us will ever be able to repay. If you know someone who served, shake their hand and thank them. You don't need to say why. They'll know. And remember on this Memorial Day weekend that there are lots of veterans that aren't around for you to thank, so say thanks to those who still are. 


GM's Soda Can Fix for Control Arm Defect

A Qualified GM Mechanic?
Well, this is a new one. According to one GM dealer, GM has told it to use a soda can and some tin foil to fix the defective front lower control arm in a 2011 Cadillac SRX.

Really? Yeah, really.

It seems that in some 2011 Cadillac SRX sport utility vehicles there is a repeated popping noise that comes from the front end when you turn the steering wheel during a tight turn and also when braking.

In spite of work on the front axle assembly, shock rod, steering gear rack, strut mounts and brake system - none of which fixed it - GM apparently had a "better idea" in mind.

Important GM suspension parts?
Tin foil and a soda can.

 Yesssiree, now that sounds like a fix that might have come out of someone's back yard, but it hardly makes sense coming from a multi-billion dollar car manufacturer's engineering department. But there it is.

And just where does that tin foil go?
Sort of reminds us of the car made back in the 80's where the engine designers apparently didn't talk to the frame designers and after it was all assembled a dealer noticed that the only way you could replace one of the spark plugs was to remove the engine from the car. Real bright, guys.

So, if you own a popping Cadillac SRX, don't be surprised if your dealer doesn't ask you if you have a spare, empty soda can.

And you might be a little suspicious if you see a roll of tin foil on that mechanic's workbench too.

Got a lemon Cadillac SRX?
Want a new Cadillac SRX (without the tin foil and soda can)?
Get some Justice.


Getting Even With Harassing Debt Collectors Is Satisfying

Have you ever been sued for a debt you didn't even owe?

In a recent debt collection harassment case we represented a local consumer who had been sued in a foreclosure - for a house he didn't even own. They even turned in the foreclosure debt on our client's credit records. All for a house he never bought in a state he had never been to.

Our client was a pefect and gentle man who was a true gentleman. When he was served with the papers he tried to explain he never bought any house in Florida, but the sheriff deputy served the legal papers on him anyway. When he wrote letters to the bank and the collection company lawyers, it got nowhere. The foreclosure case wasn't dropped. They even served more papers on him.

It was just plain wrong and they wouldn't leave him alone. That's when he called us.

We argued, wrote letters, sent emails, made phone calls, but still the bank's out-of-state collection company attorneys wouldn't drop the case. They ignored the letters. The didn't answer the emails. They didn't answer the phone calls and did not respond to the voice mails left for them. It was like every attempt to stop it just went into a dark hole and disappeared.
There are federal credit rights laws that say debt collectors and creditors can not harass you or claim you owe a bill when you don't. And they don't have a right to mess up your credit record either. Especially when you don't even owe them anything.

So, we sued back. We sued the out-of-state collection company lawyers. And we sued the bank.

(Ron got two before we could even take this picture)
It took another 6 months or so before it all came to an end. They cleaned up the credit record, dropped the foreclosure claim against our client, paid a nice amount of money to our client for his aggravation - and we made them pay our attorney fees too.

Winning, or getting a good settlement for our clients, is what makes us happy around here. It is always nice to see the legal system work out right for people.

But the best part? That was just a few days ago when our client dropped off a whole bunch of wonderful and really tasty cupcakes for everyone here at our office. Everyone just loved it.

Cupcakes from a happy client make all of us here very, very happy too.

Burdge Law Office
Helping people every day. It's what we do.