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What kind of American are you?

This column first appeared in 2007. I hope Obama lives up to his campaign speechifying and we, as a nation, can collectively answer this question with integrity and real compassion for soldiers still fighting the fight.

For most Americans without loved ones serving in Iraq, the war plays like this: out of sight, out of mind

Do you know anyone who has sacrificed their own personal standard of living — their career ambition or kitchen remodel, their bikini wax or Viagra prescription — in “support” of our nation’s troops?

For most Americans, “supporting the troops” has meant little more than Stepford-like spouting of that catchphrase, slapping yellow ribbon bumper stickers on SUVs, and packing up boxes of cookies and calling cards to send overseas.

“Support our troops.”

Given the amount of personal sacrifice we’ve made as a nation of so-called troop-supporters, that phrase sounds laughably hollow.

How do those words stand up to soldiers who are leaving their body parts – bits and pieces of their brains and hearts and arms and legs — strewn across the Iraqi desert.

“Support” is nothing more than lip service if it isn’t backed up by sacrifice.

Do you know how much the U.S. spent last year on Mother’s Day? About $16 billion.

Do you know the cost of a state-of-the-art armored vehicle – one of the full-metal Humvees or spankin’ Cougars – the ones that are highly reinforced against the deadly roadside explosive devices that are ripping through so many of our troops’ bodies because they’re riding around in antiquated tin cans?


Care to guess how many soldiers’ lives or limbs we might have saved if we had been willing to sacrifice feel-good flowers for save-life armor?

Next up, Valentine’s Day. Or Memorial Day. You can’t expect us to sacrifice our beer and burgers, new gas grills and road trips, and cartons of potato salad and ice cream… can you?

Is “support” really all we think is required when our country is at war?

Back in the day, folks used to actually – God forbid – do without in times of war. There was food rationing, conservation; Americans sacrificed at home so that troops could be adequately supplied and wars could be won.

Not any more. No American I know is willing to “feel war.” They “support” it even as they ignore it. Just don’t ask them to change their lifestyle.

Since the war began, since 9/11 for that matter, I haven’t heard of one of us foregoing a new car, skipping Botox or breast implants, or skipping a vacation, in order to “support the troops” or “fight terrorism.”

At first I was outraged and ashamed of my president for invading a country that had not acted against us. But over the past few years, I’ve come to regard GW as just a pathetic symbol of the depraved depths to which our country’s character has sunk.

We’ve gorged ourselves on food and celebrities and buying, buying, buying, until we’ve become a nation of empty-eyed wusses who couldn’t fight our way out of a back alley much less a quasi-third world country like Iraq.

If we support the troops so much, how come we haven’t demanded television programming about them? How come we don’t have shows like “Live from Baghdad” or “Active Duty”?

I’ll tell you why. Because as much as we like to say we support them, we don’t support them enough to want to see their amputated, sightless, traumatized selves in our living rooms. We don’t even want to see healthy soldiers training and talking about what they’re going through

Do you really think Americans are going to cast 50 million votes for their favorite hard-working soldier or fastest amputee in a wheelchair? Not when we can have the drama of “Idol” and the T & A of “Dancing with the Stars.”

If Americans can’t wait each week to vote for a television nobody, and can’t be bothered every four years to vote for a political somebody, what in God’s name are we fighting for? What’s left in this country to protect and preserve?

If we really supported our troops, we’d behave like a country at war.

We wouldn’t rest until every soldier was as protected as possible. We’d be taking every bit of excess cash we had and sending it to Washington demanding that adequate body armor and fully armored vehicles be immediately supplied to our troops. We’d be saying “In allegiance to my country, I won’t have luxuries at home while our nation’s soldiers are risking life and limb in a war abroad.”

There’s a monumental difference between being someone who talks support and someone who walks sacrifice.

Our soldiers know what kind of Americans they are.

Do you?

Posted on January 13th, 2009Comments RSS Feed

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