Like most University at Buffalo commuters who don’t like morning classes, the walk from my distant parking spot allows me a great chance to take in the scenery of the UB parking lot. While making this often bitterly cold walk, I’ve noticed a fair number of cars adorned with “Support Our Troops” bumper magnets. Sometimes I wonder if the theory of these magnets is working.
American military personnel have an extremely difficult job to do. When deployed, these men and women have to leave their families behind, go to very hostile parts of the world, and endure extreme hardships. Soldiers often have to sleep in sand and mud (if they get to sleep at all) and frequently eat lousy food. Going to the bathroom can amount to digging a hole in the ground. Many soldiers will even miss watching the Super Bowl.
Sometimes CNN or MSNBC make being a soldier look like Boy Scout Camp—this does a great injustice to the soldier living in a foxhole, crapping into a Ziploc bag. Soldiers also endure the 24-hour-a-day fear of death, dismemberment, and the ultimate fear of letting a down fellow soldier or their country. Not to mention the simple horror that is behind the truth of combat. Given all this and much more, it is obvious to see why we should be supporting our troops.
I have a wake up call for a rather large number of people out there who claim to support these men and women: Spending $1.75 to put a magnet on the back of your car is not enough. Sure, some of the magnet companies kick back a little money to the troops, but it’s a hollow gesture when your support for these guys ends there.
I think it’s great if people want show their support for our troops, but let’s face facts—a magnet is only a symbol of your support. Everywhere I look I see symbolic magnets, symbolic bracelets, symbolic ribbons, and I’m starting to think these things are lazy and inexpensive ways for people to ease their guilt about not doing anything. How can anyone say they support a cause when their maximum sacrifice was to give a couple of bucks to an Internet site that express-mailed them a bracelet? Worst of all, symbols are so impersonal.
I say enough with symbols and gestures; let’s start doing things that matter. If we want to support our troops, then let’s start truly supporting them.
If you know someone in the military, send them a letter of thanks and little care package. You wouldn’t believe how much a carton of smokes or a bag of Skittles from home will raise a soldier’s morale. If you don’t know anyone in the service, go to a website like treatanysoldier.com to send them the great care package they make. If you’re broke, you can even find a local Company or Battalion and raise some money to give them just a bit of comfort away from home. You might be shocked how thankful a Company would be for a case of good coffee. If you know a family struggling with having a loved one overseas, offer to mow their lawn or baby-sit. Basically, put down the Xbox controller and do something—anything you can—to help these guys out.
Seriously, when’s the last time you crapped into a Ziploc bag?
Assistant Features Editor and card-carrying member of the Republican party