Thursday, June 30, 2005

Support Our Troops: What Does That Really Mean?

In today's politically charged atmosphere I hear so many saying they support our troops and I notice that this means different things to different people. To some this professing support is nothing but a political manuever or an excuse to be for or against something that they have already decided to be for or against. To others it is a truly sincere feeling that is stated in a pure manner. But what does it all really mean to "we the people"?

It can mean proudly hanging yellow ribbons, supporting legislation that is helpful to those who are serving as well as those who have served, and fighting legislation that is not. But isn't there something more that we could be doing to support our troops? It seems to me that no price can ever be put on the gift that our service members give to each one of us (though the push for generous compensation packages & etc. should never cease!). And although yellow ribbons are certainly representative of our support, many service members will never see them or know how much we appreciate their sacrifice and love them for that. The thought of just one individual serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, being wounded, or giving their life without having ever been shown this love and appreciation by at least one of us breaks my heart and should yours too.

So that is what "support our troops" means to me. Showing as many of our service members that we love and appreciate them for what they so willingly do for us, our children, and America as we possibly can. Merely saying those words, however heartfelt, doesn't mean much in my opinion if they never see or hear this from us.

David D. Perlmutter weighs in, in a May, 2005 article that I stumbled upon over at The Christian Science Monitor -

"something more is needed: personal gratitude expressed in small, everyday acts of support"

As you've probably already guessed, I agree.

Mr. Perlmutter goes on to explain exactly how he supports our troops in a very personal way.

"Call it "treat the troops." And it should not become a big institutionalized social movement, just something all of us do once in while.
I started my campaign two months ago when I was in a local toy store. A young man in an Army uniform was shopping for some toy cars, presumably for his kids. As he stepped up to the counter, I tapped him on the shoulder and said, "Let me take care of that."
He blinked. I asked the clerk to put his purchases on my bill. I shook the young man's hand and told him, "Thanks for serving your country."
We exchanged a few pleasantries and he left, Hot Wheels in hand. That was it. No big deal - or big cost. Just a token of thanks.
Later, at a restaurant near my campus, I saw a young man in NROTC uniform eating lunch with a young lady. I pointed them out to my waiter and said, "Put their ticket on my bill." Leaving, the young man stopped to thank me. I shrugged. "No problem. Thank you for volunteering to serve your country."
So far my "treat the troops" campaign has cost me about $40. I have no elaborate plans, nor any set budget; I want to be spur-of-the-moment. Frankly, it's more fun that way."

Mr. Perlmutter's method of showing his support is so familiar that after reading about his campaign I had to wonder if I'd personally seen him in action many years ago near Ft. Riley, Kansas treating a large military family to dinner without even giving them the chance to thank him. I doubt that it was the same man but the description of his campaign brought the same tear to my eye as did that perfect American stranger so long ago. Wherever the good samaritan is today, he's not been forgotten either.

I'd like to end my "support the troops" rant by submitting a small portion of a letter that I was honored to receive from a service member in Iraq after having sent an inexpensive package (via a request put forth by his loving wife, also serving in Iraq, to a rag-tag vet group who then contacted me) filled with candy and crayon scribbled cards of love written by children as proof that our troops do indeed need us, especially in the small ways, every bit as much as we need them in a big way. We'll just call him "Richard" as I am unable to contact him at this time to ask his permission to share his name (or even any small part of his letter) but I do feel that he would more than approve so it is with that thought that I risk a first name along with a single touching paragraph.

"Let me start by saying Thank You for the letter, and care package. While all of this is very new to me, I am amazed at the support and caring both my soldiers and I have received during our ongoing operation here in Iraq. I want you to know I personally take great pride in having the opportunity to receive personal thanks from great Americans such as you! It was truly heart warming and could not have come at a better time than it had, Thank You. While I have been in the Army for now 16 years and have been deployed on numerous occasions, I have unfortunately lost friends and soldiers in my journey while all of them hold a special place in my heart, recently however I lost a true and dear friend to both my family and I of almost 14 years while conducting combat patrols. He was a great leader, man, friend and teacher. While words alone could not describe this man in enough detail the enormous amount of soldiers and people he has helped throughout his life including me, is a small comparison to the remarkable gift he had to offer this world. While I doubted after his loss my own acceptance of a continued military career and our mission here as a result of mixed emotions the receipt of your letter helped me understand the greater meaning of our chores ahead and our light of hope however dimmed by his loss to the world. For this I thank you for reaching out to a total stranger to show your support. I want you to know that in 16 years of service this has never happened to me."

Richard's letter humbles me still (I have a huge ego so that's really saying something) and no matter how many times he and those like him are told how much they are to be admired, they will likely continue to think we are the greatest Americans for simply showing our gratitude as we should.

16 years is an awfully long time to wait to be shown that your fellow American supports you but better late than never. I can't imagine how many Richards there are out there putting their lives on the line for you and I who have never been shown our personal support but even one is one too many. So if you've no cold hard cash to spare (and even if you do) to send a package, go forth immediately (contact veterans groups if need be) and write letters 'til your fingers hurt! Also be willing to stand up and totally squash any hint of the degrading BS that our service members have had to endure in the past. Let there be no excuses!


Dr. Phat Tony said...

Another good way to support our troops is to send them care packages, but not the politcaly correct ones with cookies and fruit roll-ups. Try sending logs of copehagen, cartons of smokes (best to send Marlborro lights seemed to be most popular when I was in)and porn since they took all of that out of px. I know what you're saying, "what if the soldiers doesn't like or use any of those items?" Well it's worth it's weight in gold and a soldier can make a hefty penny selling it to soldiers that do use them.

Uber said...

Those are some good ideas too Doc, over at free membership is provided to service members stationed overseas but as far as I know nobody has thought to offer our women in uniform sexy half-dressed men. You guys are slackin'! lol

Dr. Phat Tony said...

Let me get the thong back out of the drawer. You guys just can't make up your minds. First it's men in uniform, then its "show me the money".

Uber said...

Heh, a little clarification may be in order here. It's half-dressed men in uniform. Step slowly away from that thong!

The Conservative UAW Guy said...

I donated money for phone-cards.
Does that count?

Great site, Uber.

Glad you are in the 'spere.



Uber said...

Giving a service member the means to hear a loved one's voice counts a bunch...gotta be way up there with smokes and porn. lol Seriously, just so long as they are shown that we haven't forgotten them then it's all good in my opinion.
And thanks for the encouragement! :)

Damian G. said...

I love the site (pink is definitely your colour).
I'll link to you if you link to me and comment on my blog.

Uber said...

Gotcha, Damian, gladly. Terrific blog. As for the you really think so? I sure the pink doesn't make my butt look fat? I think my colors are usually stronger colors. Silver, gray, black, red, and silver...but when viewing the template choices those weren't choices, just different levels of make me wanna puke. Black, as you chose, is awesome but messes with me eyes. Gads I'm gettin old. lol
Ah well, some day my knight in blogging armor will come along, sweep me off my pink and teach me how to make my own templates. A girl's gotta dream.

Wyatt Earp said...

Great stuff! FYI - there's a site I frequent called which gives out addresses for our troops. I have donated care packages many times, and have included books, CD's, and non-perishable food (my K-9 Unit loved the Slim Jims!).

Uber said...

Thanks for the visit and the link Wyatt, I'll definitely check it out and pass it along. :)
BTW, an unrelated comment. Of all the books I've sent, I'm surprised to find that the "Left Behind" series seems to be the most popular even amongst younger service members who wouldn't seem to be the type to enjoy that particular genre. Get requests for more copies so everyone will stop bumming theirs- trying to read them at the same time. I file that tid-bit under "Things that make me go hhmmm."