Saturday, July 15, 2006

RESPECT

(Preface - This is a letter I sent to our local weekly newspaper, The Independent Coast Observer, in response to a letter which appeared two weeks ago. The writer meant well, but obviously is clueless about the military and how her comments demean its members.)

A couple of weeks ago a writer to the ICO was saddened by the lower education level of soldiers who signed up on AnySoldier.com. She found them to be “not the cream of the crop, not obvious college material, not the ‘advantaged.’” “They often are the under dogs from the under belly of our country.”

Intrigued, I decided to run this test myself and see if I could make snap judgments of education and character based on Internet information, so I went to DailyKos and Democratic Underground, and skimmed the comments. The writer may be on to something. A lot of the comments, particularly about the military and President Bush, were ungrammatical, poorly punctuated, with numerous misspellings. As a bonus, they had a feature lacking on AnySoldier.com, they were laced with profanity, especially the ones concerning President Bush. Apparently they think many Republicans have serious Oedipus complexes.

Actually, I think it was very nice the Democrats organized a Military Appreciation Day to send goodies to the troops. My family did that frequently for me during the early part of my 21 years in the Air Force, and Alice and I have sent many packages to my Army son when he was in Iraq, and earlier Haiti. We also sent a lot of magazines and other goodies for him to pass around in his unit.

However, increasingly the American public is out of touch with our military and its members. This ignorance is manifested in many ways, one of which was demonstrated in the comments of a well-meaning and good-intentioned neighbor.

In truth, most of the guys and gals in today’s military can buy goodies at the Exchanges on or near their operating bases. Which begs the question, “What is the best thing we can send our troops?” In my humble opinion, “RESPECT.”

(End of letter)

The end of the letter, but not quite the end of what I felt like saying. But I try to honor the 300 word limit per letter established by our local paper.

However, this area has become a hotbed of anti-military prejudices because of its proximity to San Francisco, and many of the comments I hear concerning the military are very derogatory. On the day Baghdad fell, the essentially pro-Palestinian Women in Black had an anti-war protest rally in front of the Post Office. As I passed by, one of the Women in Black, my dentist at the time, called me over to argue about the war. Another of the women asked me what I used to do, and I told her I served over 21 years in the Air Force. She then asked, "What did you do after you wasted 21 years of your life?" I got the impression that it would have been OK with her if we didn't have a military, and just let the Soviets take over the world without any opposition.

You don’t have to agree with what our military does, but they are doing it for all of us, even the ungrateful. I have spoken to many people over the years who are ignorant of the military, and are contemptuous rather than thankful. One friend told me we forced Japan to attack us, and events like the Rape of Nanking and other Japanese atrocities prior to Pearl Harbor didn’t mean anything. Another said The Treaty of Versailles was responsible for Nazi atrocities, not the Germans. Their conclusion: we would have been better off if we didn’t oppose the Germans and Japanese with military force.

I sure do beg to differ. Maybe they don't hold freedom and liberty dear, but I do. They don't realize, or care, that "Good people sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf*."

They may say "I didn't ask them to do that, they don't do it in my name," but I'm grateful that even our ingrates have the freedom to gripe and bitch incessantly. All that bitching and griping is the sound of freedom. You won't hear it in Iran, or Syria, or North Korea.

*The words in the banner of "The Mudville Gazette."

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