Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Scrap Metal, Not Soldiers

Will the newest addition to city streets be a guy sitting
in front of a Starbucks with a cup and a cardboard sign that says IRAQ WAR
VET?


So asks Anna Quindlen in her August 8th Newsweek Column in which she remembers the 1946 Oscar winning movie, The Best Years of Our Lives, about sodliers returning from WWII, their disorientation and their family's and community's distaste for their horror-ridden war stories and dismay at their inability to just get on with living the lives they had, after all, not lost. Quindlen asks if we haven't learned enough in sixty years to avoid such insensitivities and the disgrace of not ensuring that our vets have every resource for retrieving their shattered psyches and fractured families, their livelihoods, their health and their hope. Or, in a word, their dignity.

When I hear all the ballyhoo about support the troops, I look carefully at the context, because so shamefully much of it is little more than camouflaged cheerleading for the war. For when it is truly about supporting the soldiers themsleves, there is no tolerance for inadequate armor and ammunition, inadequate nutrition and sanitation, inadequate training and stress management. All of this while they are still on the field of battle. The story only gets more shameful when they come home as they struggle with compromised health and finances under the burden of a frangible emotional balance.

So whether you are hawk, dove or chickenhawk, your cries for 'support the troops' will ring hollow until the consensus of ALL of you brooks no tolerance for homeless vets, servicemen qualifying for foodstamps, weeks long waits for Doctor appointments, reservists denied the jobs they left behind....and so on and on and on. Such should be the epitome of un-American--but, sadly, it is not. Thus, I am with Anna Quindlen when she says:

Never mind the yellow-ribbon magnets; patriotism is an empty, dumb show if it doesn't include adequate health care, a living wage and decent shelter for people who laid down their lives.

0 tell me a story:

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