Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Support our Troops?

I just heard a very human story on NPR's All Things Considered.
Michele Norris talks with John Campbell, a first sergeant with the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division, and his wife Paula, about Campbell's imminent deployment to Iraq. This will be Campbell's second tour of duty in Iraq, but this time things are different, as Paula is pregnant with twins that are due in April.
The Campbells came across as very human — real people dealing with a difficult situation, and handling it as well as they could. The interviewer asked one political question. Sergeant Campbell's answer was that his solders generally didn't think about politics. They mainly did what they were told and worried about staying alive. Quite understandable.

As I was driving, I saw a car bearing one of those yellow support-our-troops ribbon stickers. I felt irritated at the driver. What was she doing to support the Campbells? Was she contributing money to buy them better equipment. (That shouldn't be necessary, but perhaps it is.) Was she contributing to a fund to provide insurance for troops who die? (Another story told of New Mexico instituting a plan to provide $250,000 in life insurance for all of its soldiers. The death benefit provided by the federal government is $12,000.) If not that, what was she doing? What was she asking people who saw her car ribbon to do? My guess is that most people who paste those support-our-troops ribbons on their cars do nothing to support our troops. If I'm wrong, let me know.

One thing she surely did was to buy that yellow sticker. As far as I can determine, those stickers are not promoted by any legitimate organization as part of a fund raising campaign with the proceeds used to support troops. To buy one just do a Google search on support our troops (drag the mouse over the phrase in bold and release) and click on any of the ads that come up. As far as I can tell, those car ribbon decals are pure political demagoguery.

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