Peace through victory - the American way.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Cheering The Troops Rather Than Spitting On Them.

It's been a typical Independence Day weekend so far: a barbecue party on Saturday and a baseball game on Sunday. One truncated conversation at Saturday's barbecue was also typical in this time when American troops are again fighting for freedom abroad. The conversation turned to the war and a Vietnam veteran mentioned how much it hurts him to see the kudos and ovations that soldiers returning from Iraq receive from the public today. He mentioned the pain he felt upon returning from Vietnam at the treatment he and his fellow vets received from the public back then. A woman agreed that the treatment the Vietnam vets received wasn't fair since the war wasn't their fault; it was the fault of the politicians who sent them there.

Unfortunately, the conversation immediately moved to other topics to avoid an uncomfortable political debate on the merits of the Vietnam war and the war in Iraq. Unfortunate because the vet's comment on the praise for the soldiers today was so puzzling. It would be unseemly to try and analyze the feelings behind the vet's remark; but not the assumption behind the woman's statement that somebody needed to be blamed for US involvement in Vietnam and that the politicians were to blame for the treatment the soldiers received.

The most bothersome thing about today's anti-war types who view everything through the prism of Vietnam is that they have not bothered to rethink their position in light of the events that happened after the US pulled out. The flight of the boat people, the fall of Cambodia and the continued tyranny in Vietnam demonstrate that the US was right to fight in Vietnam and that the US was on the right side. These events demonstrate that the people who opposed the Vietnam war were wrong to do so. It's not a tragedy that we fought in Vietnam; the tragedy is that we lost.

It's not the fault of the politicians who sent the troops to Vietnam that the country treated the troops so badly when they returned from the war. That blame lies with the the people who treated them that way and with the anti-war activists who demonized the troops as baby-killers and a band of barbarians worthy of Genghis Khan, to recall one infamous remark of Senator John Kerry.

The one good thing the current band of anti-war activists has done is to state over and over that though they oppose the war they "support the troops." It's a hypocritical position to take because it's not possible for them to "support" the troops while opposing the troops' mission. There are several ways to support the troops. One way is to support their mission politically so they can accomplish their job. Another way is to literally support the troops by, for example, sending them letters, care packages, or helping their families here at home. A person who politically opposes the war and doesn't lend literal support to the troops can't claim to "support the troops." In fact, they are opposing the troops. They may care about the troops and want them to come home from combat alive but that's a very differnt thing from supporting them.

In general the anti-war activists' claim to "support the troops" is a cheap and self-serving statement they make in order to maintain their credibility with the general public. Nevertheless, the result is that even the war's opponents don't abuse today's troops and America's soldiers are generally well regarded.

All this is a roundabout way of getting to this. The San Diego Padres organization has for years set aside a section of seats on Sunday day games for Navy and Marine recruits to attend with their units. The Navy recruiting base is closed here now but the Marines still train their recruits in this town. This is a long-distance picture of the Marines who attended today's game. (Click photo to enlarge.)

In the past many fans would not stand or applaud when the troops were honored at the games. Things are different today. Below are two photos of the fans at the game waving the flag and giving the Marines a standing ovation while the Marine Corps Hymn plays over the loudspeaker during a break in the game. (Click photos to enlarge.) Here's to the Marines on this Independence Day. We couldn't have it without them.




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