November 28, 2012
Every football game now includes a patriotic salute with a huge flag displayed in the center of the playing field, jets flying overhead and pictures of vets and GIs in uniform.
The advertisements for joining the military or honoring our vets run all day long on the television. (The military has an endless supply of our money to spend on advertisements.). One poignant propaganda piece even brought tears to my eyes it was so well staged and effective. It portrayed a young female GI in uniform who looked worried, maybe scared, not lost, but forlorn, as she departed from an airplane in a busy airport. As she left the plane an elderly man sitting in the airport witnessed her lost look. Clearly a vet, he stood up and proudly saluted her.
The local news has its hand in the pie, too. Not a news show goes by without some vet, sometimes disabled or clearly suffering from PTSD, singled out for a “thank you for your service” from somebody.
The “Thank You’s” have become a national pastime, a politician’s wet dream, and a patriotic duty. It has come to the point where anti-war Americans (the vast majority) have no say in either the policies of this country, or the patriotism that is one-sidedly pro-war, pro-drones, and pro-military. It has become a veritable duty to support the entire war machine, including the drone-makers, weapon manufacturers, and the lobbyists/politicians who run the government.
Veterans and servicemembers are being used and abused in the process. They are nothing but cannon fodder and helpless pawns who are sacrificed in order to keep the military budget rising, for the perpetuation of the lies, for enticing our young people to join the military, and for electoral victories.
Scratch beneath the image of any patriotic woman or man who says the deeply felt “Thank You” to the veteran and you find someone who would support all wars – regardless of their legitimacy. Such people usually have a family member currently serving in the military, served themselves, or feel it is necessary and politically correct to publicly thank someone. What she doesn’t consider is that the GI might be very much against the wars, someone who is suffering from PTSD, or who doesn’t want to hear the words at all: they know better. They’ve seen first hand the atrocities being committed in our name.
Why don’t these “thankful patriots” consider the infant bombed by a “wayward” drone missile, who has been killed or lost a limb, who also will suffer from PTSD, or whose father has been killed during a brother’s wedding celebration? Why don’t they consider the weapons manufacturers who are profiting from that drone? Why don’t they consider someone the President has decided to assassinate because his name appears on a “kill list?” Why don’t they consider and mourn for the people in far away lands who have had no military and have had their countries overrun by foreigners – namely, Americans, Norwegians, Swedes, British, Australian and so forth? Why don’t they consider Guantanamo an abomination?
Maybe those who say the “Thank You’s” should light a candle for all those who have been maimed and killed by U.S. servicemen and women. Maybe at the next football game the audience should rise for a moment of silence for all children who have lost their parents and limbs.
The blind, unwarranted patriotism of Americans is harming us, not helping us. “Support our Troops” does not mean “Bring them home” in their patriotic lexicon, but rather, it means “Support their Illegal Wars” throughout the world. We look forward to the day when our soldiers return to their appropriate status, as defenders of our country, who protect us against real, not imagined enemies.
Marti Hiken is the director of Progressive Avenues. She is the former Associate Director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and former chair of the National Lawyers Guild Military Law Task Force. www.progressiveavenues.org