This memorial day I am thinking about all of the wonderful symbols of support for the troops. The ribbons and American flags adorning automobiles and bumper stickers saying “Support Our Troops”
It’s all pretty hollow and I’ll have none of it. Let’s face it we don’t give a damn about our soldiers. Never did! The one exception that I know of was the GI Bill of Rights enacted after WWII
During the war for independence the soldiers were promised a bonus upon leaving the service that would be equal to the difference of the money they would have been paid if they did not go to war. They didn’t get it.
In 1781, most of the continental army was disbanded without pay. Two years later hundreds of Pennsylvania war veterans marched on Philadelphia, then the capital, surrounded the State House where the U.S. Congress was in session, and demanded their pay. Congress fled to Princeton, New Jersey, and several weeks later, the U.S. Army expelled the war veterans from the national capital.
After WWI the soldiers were promised a bonus that would not be paid until 1945. During the Great Depression the soldiers demanded their bonus early as many of them had been unemployed for years. General MacArthur brought in the army and crushed them.
In 1892 Rudyard Kipling wrote “Tommy”, a poem about the mistreatment of British troops. At least we are not alone. The British were no better than us when it came to treating the military in the most thankless way http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wzLjkIKWH6c
There are several versions, and one of them was recited by Roger Moore.
Do we treat military people any better now than we did in the past? I don’t think so. And when there is peace again, will there be money set aside to mend their wounds? Will we invest a dime to heal their mental illnesses? Will we see a new crop of disturbed people, homeless because they have lost their minds to war? Among our great shame is the legacy of Viet Nam vets.
The cost of war is brutal. We demean ourselves in war. Then when the troops do go berserk, we draw back in horror. Give me a break! If any of us civilians were put in the situation that we ask our soldiers to endure, how long would it be before we crack. I don’t know the answer to that question, I served in peacetime. My president was Dwight Eisenhower, he knew what war was, and he hated it, and I benefited by that fact.
This Memorial Day let’s honor our vets by giving them the services they need. The educations that will make the healthy ones self sufficient, and a simple thank you. And veterans forgive me if I don’t slap some moronic bumper sticker on my car.
A Lovely Sticker on My Car – Ernie Fazio
The lovely stickers on my car
Tell the world we love the soldiers
Give to them a smart salute
And put a dollar in the drum
Not to worry this war will end
Then we’ll forget about ‘em
Some soldiers will find peace
That will be our hope
Others never seen again
Having drowned their sorrow
Sixty five hundred every year
Have sought the final exit
What a statistic to endure
But who even cares about it
Our lives comfy and secure
We continue on our way
Never knowing the pain of those
With nightmares all in gray
So put another sticker on your car
Another flag or ribbon
Discard them when guns go mute
And go about your livin’
After all you’re not the fool
That sent them to their hell
Take no solace in your innocence
As it does not exist
We’re the gutless ones
That never did insist
War is declared by all of us
And not some King imperious
 Recent report that 6;500 returning soldiers take their own lives