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September 29, 2005
Supporting Our Troops VS. the 'Mission'By Holly Aho
I've heard it plenty of times. "I support the troops but not their mission." Many take offense at the thought that they are unsupportive of our troops if they do not support their mission. It seems that with the exception of a rare few (Fred Phelps for one), most people do not disagree on troop support - they disagree on the mission of our troops. While this may seem heartening, the idea that with a few exceptions our entire country supports our troops...you have to wonder why this is such an issue. It's an issue because of the 'mission' aspect of the support.
Why does this raise such passion in our society? Because most of us do not want to align ourselves with the likes of those that openly admit they do not support our troops. It would be an aweful thing to admit that you do not care about your fellow human beings - would it not? We wouldn't want to believe it of ourselves in private, let alone say it in public. Come on - try it...see how it makes you feel to say these words out loud, "I do not care about my fellow human beings." Did you cringe just thinking of saying it? No wonder everyone wants to believe there is a way to support our troops without supporting what they are doing. The alternative (that this is impossible) is repugnant.
So what's the problem? Is it that conservatives want to make the liberals feel bad about their anti-war views? Is it a covert way to call them jerks? "If you are anti-war you can't support our troops - and only really bad people don't care about their fellow human beings." Is that it? Are we back to the moral superiority here? Or is it something more?
I think it is something more. I think the obvious has yet to be stated. When you support our troops you are aiding their mission. How so? Well, a letter to a soldier that boosts his morale will enable him to better perform his job (ie. accomplish his mission). How can you support a soldier and aide in the completion of his mission while stating you do not support said mission?
Something else - trying to do what you think is best for someone is not the same as supporting that person. Trying to bring the troops home now (if that's what you believe to be right), is doing what you think is best for them. Now perhaps there are those soldiers who might agree with you on what is best, but not all of them, and not most of them. So in effect you are putting what you believe to be best above what they believe. Kind of like forcing someone to get married who chooses to remain single, or forcing them to be a doctor when they'd rather be a lawyer because you think you know the best choices for them, regardless of what they want (or pushing a minority position on a majority public? Can we say democracy?).
So what am I saying? That you must be for the war in Iraq? That you must cease lobbying Washington to bring our troops home? That only then can you support our troops? No. What I am saying is this - if you are supporting our troops with actions such as letter writing, carepackages or whatever, you have to realize you are aiding the mission you oppose. If you are supporting our troops merely with lip service (saying the words but you have yet to actually DO anything supportive) then you have to realize you are not really 'supporting' our troops (you are a cheerleader...you are 'supportive').
So let me make it clear here - I don't think there are bad guys in this disagreement. I think there are three types of people:
Now I realize that the word 'support' has become more of a catch phrase than a verb with real meaning these days, so I don't expect everyone to stop saying it. I'm not saying you are a liar if you say you support our troops but want to bring them home now or agree with their mission but have never written a letter. I just want to clarify the arguement that has developed - those that support our troops and their mission are arguing semantics of the word 'support' with those that disagree. It needs to be acknowledged that this has become a catch phrase and is not necessarily being used by dictionary definition.
But if you want to start debating the whole idea - it must be taken back to the definition for some clear-cut lines. Use the phrase - but be honest about what you mean and what your intentions are when you say it.
After reading this article to my mother (to get her wisdom and opinion... gotta love mothers!) she asked a pertinant question that I decided should be asked and answered here: "What is your goal in writing this article? Who do you want to reach?"
My goal is to provide some honesty to conservatives and liberals alike. The very semantics that conservatives use on the word 'support' to indicate the mission must be included can backfire to be used against them - hence the continual debate and mixed feelings. The players, coach, pep squad and waterboys are all important in a game. Disagreeing how things should be done is fine - but there's no need to follow a rabbit trail of 'support', when the mission is the real issue at large.
"'Character' is what you do when no one's looking. The same could be said for 'support'."
Posted by Holly Aho / September 29, 2005 10:04 PM | Permalink
It's late...as usual. Real World - I can't believe October is almost here. Is it just me, or does it feel like this year is just racing by? Not that I'm complaining though. Fall/Winter is my favorite time of the... Read More
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
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