I just got back from my sister’s wedding, which involved quite a few hours driving in a car. A sizable portion of the cars on the road here in the Eastern US are now sporting yellow and/or red, white, and blue ribbon magnets that say simply Support Our Troops. The more I saw them, the more enraged I got.
I should note that I currently have a cousin in the Marines, two uncles who have served (Army, Navy), and both my grandfathers are WWII veterans who saw some serious combat activity. I have a lot of respect and admiration for those who serve in the military. No, this rant is about the magnets and the people who sport them.
“Support Our Troops” is about as meaningless a phrase as can be devised. What does that mean? Send them better equipment? Give them a better salary? (I’m all for both.) Recruit more of them? Give them better uniforms? I have no idea.
The idea behind the ribbons (the AIDS ribbon, the breast cancer ribbon, ad nauseum) was to raise awareness about a particular issue so that people would take some action. I think there’s quite a bit of awareness about the war: what we need now is some action towards a goal. Even people like myself who are against the war don’t blame the troops who are fighting it. Tying a yellow ribbon is about bringing a loved one home, and if that’s the message (is it?), I’m all for it. The best way we can support our troops now is to get them the hell out of Iraq in as short a time as possible.
But slapping a magnet on your car is about the very least you can do. If you really want to help those in the military, work towards a concrete goal. Get them better equipment and a better salary. Get them more troops. Honor their sacrifices.
Of course, the best way to support our troops is to not abuse their trust in the government to not send them into pointless wars. But that doesn’t fit on a magnet.