Like Hope, But Different


(Warning: Put down any hot beverages you may be drinking before pressing play.)

On a more serious note, via The Atlantic‘s excellent Andrew Sullivan, comes Kaboom: A Soldier’s War Journal and a post, “Wisdom from the Homefront“, about some of the mail soliders in Iraq receive from American schoolchildren:

…my favorite portion of the miscellaneous stack of our mail room are the letters written to soldiers by American schoolchildren. Most of them offer the same commonplace banalities sent our way from the greater American public – thank you for what you do, please return home safely, we’ll pray for you. Empty words from an empty people; they want to show that they care, but this experience is so unlike anything in their realm of understanding only trodden clichés can fill their vacuum of confusion. I’m not bitter – yet – I’m just commenting on reality.

At least the children have an excuse for their simplicity – they’re in elementary school – and at least they make their points in various glossy crayon colors, something only Stalinists and degenerate hermaphrodites do not appreciate. (My favorite neo-color is burned jam orange. Van Gogh’s color of the insane, gone emo.) But like seeing a disturbingly sensual scene in a Disney film you watched 100 times before you noticed the veiled smut, an occasional gem can be mined out of these letters that forever alters your perception of supposed innocence. Here’s a list of my early favorites, all advice suggested by real American children in real American letters with real American crayons. This is what the Red, White, and Blue is all about, you dig? If we fight this Long War to protect the nurturing of such beautiful understatement, I’m all for it. It’s as good a reason as any, and not contrived like the normal political justifications.

— I hope you don’t die, soldier. That would be bad.

— I feel sorry for you.

— I think war is worse than math.

— My daddy doesn’t want me to be in the soldiers, cause he says that the Irack will last forever. Maybe if he changes his mind I’ll see you in the Irack.

— My cousin was in war but he got hurt. Now he has a big beard and drinks beer all day long. My mom says he should get a job.

— Can you send me back a bad guy’s head? That would be cool.

— I think it’s fun you went to the same school as I do, even if I wasn’t born yet. How old are you, anyways? (Note: A group of third-graders from my elementary school sent me a collection of letters. This selection is the only sampling from them, specifically.)

— I’m going to study real hard, so I don’t have to go to Iraq. Do you wish you had done better at school? (Note to John Kerry and other assorted communists, from CPT Whiteback: “Most of our soldiers have matriculated at a higher level than your average John Q. Public. So F off with the ‘You joined the Army … oh … what happened, you couldn’t get a job?’ stuff. AND STOP TELLING YOUR KIDS WE’RE DUMB! Whiteback out.”)

— I hate cursive. Do you have to write in cursive for war?

— Is it like the movies? Do our letters make you feel better?

To answer the last selection’s questions: No. And yes. Keep ‘em coming, Millennials, and edify me about the bizarre Japanimation that has inexplicably returned to Saturday morning cartoons.

If McCain does become the Republican nominee, I guarantee that a lot of ugly things are going to be said by surrogates on either side of the faux divide between now and the election in November as someone will cross the line and denigrate his (or others’) military service in some way.

It’s easy, especially in the midst of a political campaign full of empty rhetoric and false bravado, to forget that “our troops” are flesh and blood individuals, many of them kids, with families and friends, each one having their own unique reason for enlisting in the military, very few of them involving taking pleasure in killing others.

It’s easy to forget that each and every one of them, no matter what their individual political beliefs may be — and honestly,  you’ll often never know the truth until they’re permanently out of uniform — each and every one of them is deserving of our honor and respect.

It’s easy to forget, but it’s wrong, so don’t.

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