By Jerry Donnellan
Director, Veterans Service Agency of Rockland County
On December 22 at 13:30 hours, local time in Bagram, Afghanistan six Americans were killed. Sad to say that on this morning network news this ran as the fifth or sixth item, behind Star Wars, Hillary vs. Donald, and the Miss Universe debacle.
Sad, not much has changed. People are simply tired of war. Back in my war by the late ’60s we were averaging 200 KIA’s (Killed in Action) a week. That became acceptable as news of the war found its way further and further back in the newspapers- to the point where reporters began referring to casualties as “light” or “moderate” or “heavy.” It seemed it wasn’t even worth taking the time to figure out what the actual body count was.
Part of the problem is the public is and was more concerned with the latest movie than a dead soldier. During Vietnam you could understand to some degree because of the unpopularity of the war, and since we the soldiers of that war became unpopular too. The public couldn’t separate the war from the warrior. But now we hold our military in high regard. You must love the spots on TV where the dad in camouflage shows up unannounced at his daughter’s dance recital, or the mom in her Class As makes it to show and tell. These are the same networks that charge for time to do a salute to the troops before the kickoff.
Now everyone says “Thank you for your service.” It’s gotten to be almost as meaningful as “Have a nice day.” I guess it’s better than being spit on, but at least we truly knew how the people felt. Now we seem to be cursed by politically correct, aging, hippies who are working through the collective guilt of their actions of the 1960s – when they claimed to just be against the war. No one is more anti-war than a soldier.
Most of the hippies were simply afraid of being inconvenienced or hurt, or thought they were somehow better than us. Anyone notice that the protest ended the same time as the draft did? Have we seen any anti-war protests at any college campuses lately?
For all the protests, the ones that finally got Washington’s attention were those made by the veterans of Vietnam. It was hard for us to come to that point because of the cost of what we had left on the battlefield – our friends, our youth, our soul, our blood. Blood which like that of warriors of past centuries would be washed away by the next monsoons – down through the highlands and the rice paddy dykes and out to the sea. The jungle would stand as a mute witness as it reclaimed our fire bases and LZs (Landing Zones).
Those things about war don’t change. Nor do the people who disrespected the warriors and their sacrifices. They’re still more concerned with their comfort level. However, now they’re PC and maybe worried about their chances of getting into heaven or appearing unpatriotic. If we are not willing to go to war as a country then maybe it’s not worth going. If we are not willing to give our full attention, why is it worth sending kids to die? Or is it that it IS somebody else’s kid?
That can be okay, or made up for because for $19 a month we can help a wounded soldier, and get a free blanket. As a wounded soldier, I’m curious how much of that $19 actually gets to the soldier. I feel those commercials are embarrassing. It’s just another piece of the new “Plastic Patriotism” that has become an industry unto itself fueled by guilt, using a wounded soldier as an object to be pitied – this seems to fit with the condescending attitude these people have toward US soldiers.