I recently witnessed the ushering in of a new era in local retail. It came with all the pageantry of a presidential inaugural. Perhaps I'm overstating it a bit. But not too much.
Irvine just added a new WalMart to its retail base. The ribbon cutting had representatives from public safety, Navy Junior ROTC and a local marching band. I'll spare you the rattling off of local electeds shoving their way to the microphone. So why did this capture my attention?
I was a little taken back by seeing high school students on hand to literally herald the opening with trumpets for a store that sells clothing made by children who can't attend school let alone belong to the school band. The high school students belonging to the Naval Junior ROTC provided a color guard. It is difficult to find honor guards for the funerals of WWII and Korean war veterans. VFWs and other retiree organizations are picking up the slack providing honor guard detachments. I sleep easier knowing WalMart had an color guard.
This particular WalMart sells groceries. I noted their prices didn't appear any better than my local Albertson's or Stater Bros., which is staffed by UFCW union members and provides benefits to their employees.
To bottom line it: WalMart didn't cure cancer. It is a major retail establishment that provides low cost goods made possible by the use of low cost labor overseas and by providing low wages to its employees.
I was troubled by the forced patriotic fervor of what was a simple ribbon cutting for a new business.This particular ribbon cutting was dripping with Americana. I half expected a group of returning war veterans to emerge from the front doors.
My perspective is but one of many. I'm not particularly anti WalMart although I am troubled by some of their business practices. At the end of the day it is a retail giant and nothing more. So let's forego the trumpets and flag waving while getting a collective grip.