Friday, December 21, 2012

Holiday Cards for the Troops

A couple of Thursdays ago I went to the Little Red Hen to meet Danielle, and bumped into our friend Katie.  She had a box of holiday cards for the troops and needed folks to write personal messages.  Danielle was already sitting at the bar and had a couple of cards; I took three for myself.

Now, I have had a few conversations with Katie and, although I don't know her well, I would cautiously label her something of a liberal, or at least liberal-minded.  Danielle I know very well - she is very liberal.  I am still learning about myself, but I am clearly very liberal - and then maybe even slightly more than that.

At any rate, at the end of the night all the cards didn't get signed, and Danielle volunteered that we would take half of the remaining stack home with us and finish them up over the weekend - 25 cards or so - and I would run them back over to Katie at the Hen Sunday night.  This we did.

I don't bring this up to say, "Hey, look at me!" I bring it up for this reason: when Katie asked me if I would write notes in some of these cards, my first thought was, "Of course - these people are in a foreign country, far from their homes and families during the holiday season, why wouldn't I make some sort of gesture, however slight, to let them know they haven't been forgotten."  I wished each of them well, I thanked each for his or her service.

So, that's three liberals personalizing holiday cards for the troops in one bar in Seattle.  Likely there were groups of people across the country doing this same thing; possibly other liberals were involved; possibly you were involved yourself.  But you've heard that mantra from the Right - "Liberals don't support the troops!" Bullshit, not true.  Liberals, in general, support the troops and want them all to come home safely.  Hell, we want everyone to come home safely.  It's the war we don't support.  Two different things.



  1. I respect your position on this. I consider it compassionate and ethical in it's own way.
    As I expound on a counter-belief, I understand I could be accused of living in a Gandhi/Lennon dream world. My beliefs as more categorically pacifist.
    First, I don't think military personnel should get more accolades or recognition or "support" than police, fire and first responders who have physical risk built into their jobs and who perform a public service. All the hoop-la at ballgames, aircraft fly-overs and marching soldiers only serve to remind me of the destructive power of the US and it's imperialist agenda. I understand jobs are scarce and the military appears to be the best or only option for many persons who want to provide for their family and "do something with their lives". Often a recruit has the attitude that they'll get in and get out, earning the monetary and educational benefits which will presumably allow them to get on with their lives at an advantage. What may happen instead is physical and mental trauma. There is a sense of camaraderie and belonging and commensurate dis-connection with civilian life which then may block the original intent. You find the same thing in urban gangs. Sure, Police and Fire groups have their similarities. But they are not killing people in other countries.
    A good argument against my position is found in : The World Without Us(2008). A documentary which portrays a US president who calls for military withdrawal. Authoritative and worldly talking heads then explain the essential nature of the role of US military around the world. What the documentary fails to describe is arms trade, the military industrial complex, wars which support nothing but US commercial and oil interests and the possibility of accomplishing requisite police actions with a small fraction of the gargantuan force we maintain and under the auspices of a bolstered UN. OK, blah blah blah. What does this have to do with the poor individual soldier and her need for public support? I believe there should be an exodus from the military ranks, and a boycott by potential new recruits when a country's military has run amok as has ours.
    As a hard-core pacifist, I can't offer support or encouragement to those who choose to take up arms, particularly under these circumstances.

  2. Bryan - I completely agree with you on that first paragraph w/r/t police, fire fighters, first responders, etc. And I cannot STAND watching jets fly over ballparks. I absolutely hate it. All the jingoistic bullshit that goes along with that, the chest-pumping.

    As for the second paragraph, I respect a hard-core pacifist, I do. In my head I pictured some 19 year old kid, I guess, a year out of high school and going "what the fuck have I got myself in to".

  3. I must admit I'm more with Bryan on this one. Maybe if we didn't "support the troops," over time there'd be fewer 19 year old kids joining up and then wondering "what the fuck have I gotten myself in to" as they're killing some other 19 year old kid who is wondering the same thing.

  4. A fair point, Robert. Though I believe ratcheting down the patriotic/militaristic bullshit would be a better place to start than with me NOT sending a holiday card to someone far from home. In any event, it was an on the spot decision because, you know, I was ASKED, and I ran it through the Everybody In filter (tm) and it cleared that hurdle. Or, to put that another way, I didn't go out LOOKING to do it; likely I wouldn't go out looking to do it next year, either. But if it came up, well, I have some more information to consider in the meantime, don't I...

  5. I think it's a big world with plenty of room for different attitudes as long as there is SOME element of compassion. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with sending holiday cards to troops, or anyone else when the intention is to make someone feel better. M & D, you've got big hearts and we love you for them.

  6. Thanks for the kind words, Bryan. We do try...