Saturday, October 23, 2010

Thank you for your service. Now bugger off.

Ahhh. Saturday night. A full moon. Cool, fall weather (only available in Japan). The OWWISAM (The One with Whom I Share a Mansion) in her room watching YouTube continuing a nearly 4-month war of silence. And me, having not had the sense to accept an invitation to take a trip to an onsen in Abiko, now sitting around reading the news on the Internet. Who ever said life in Tokyo was not exotic?

While not reading about things Japan, I sometimes---actually usually---read things about other weird, unscrupulous places such as the US. Really, the US is actually harder to understand than Japan even though I was born and raised there.

Reading Bob Herbert's latest column, The Way We Treat Our Troops, almost makes a wasted Saturday night worth it:

...for evidence that the United States is letting its claim to greatness, and even common decency, slip through its fingers, all you need to do is look at the way we treat our own troops...The idea that the United States is at war and hardly any of its citizens are paying attention to the terrible burden being shouldered by its men and women in uniform is beyond appalling.

...I would bring back the draft in a heartbeat. Then you wouldn’t have these wars that last a lifetime...(Careful Bob, that is gettin' mighty close to being unAmerican.) NYT

Unfortunately for Mr. Herbert and the US, this will never, ever change. Not only do we not pay for our wars---well, not right away instead we borrow from other countries---we make sure that mostly poor and lower middle class fight them while sloganeering "Support Our Troops," then assume them to be dangerous crazed nuts (and make movies and all kinds of "documentaries") when they get back.

It has become fashionable since the wars began 10 years ago to tell any veteran, "Thank you for your service." I have heard that---or actually read it in e-mails and on Facebook etc, since no American in Japan ever said it to me---but I never know how to respond. I am sure people are sincere in saying it, but I have no idea what it really means.

I once applied for a part-time job back in the US after getting out of the USAF and starting college. The fine patriot read my application saw my military service and asked, " You're not in the National Guard or anything are you?"

"No," I replied.

"Good," said the worm, "We don't need any of that shit (meaning he did not want to have to give time off for annual drills etc)*.

I would almost bet that he is now all supportive of the folks fighting in Afghanistan, as long as they stay in Afghanistan or at least not bother him with any of that military "shit."

*I did not take the job.

Blogger spell check does not accept Facebook as a properly spelled word.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11:14 PM

    I noticed the lack of fanfare, if that is a good term, immediately following the removal of the last "combat" troops from Iraq. As a peacetime vet I have noticed the same treatment from prospective employers when applying for jobs lately. And as far as Americans caring...well I am back in school and my class in International Relations (World Politics) was as quiet as a graveyard last week when the professor was discussing theories of war. The NYT article helps me analyze why I was so upset when the class ended. Perhaps Facebook could aid in the publics awareness (sarcastically speaking..of course).