Dear Old Man Who Stands at the Base Gate Protesting,
I was quite shocked to see you today. It had been a while since I had last spotted you holding your “War is not the answer” sign. You were a staple of my summer last year and noticeably absent lately. While I do not know your story, there are a few things I would like to tell you.
I commend your use of the First Amendment. I was a communications student in college and took whole classes dedicated to the law and application of our freedom of speech. I personally find it ironic that you utilize your freedom in a way to tell us others should not be granted the right to choose if they would like to be treated in the same way. I am not ethnocentric enough to say all countries should have governments like ours or handle everything in our way. I do however believe that everyone should get to pick what type of government best suits their morals, their goals and their nation. Thank you for reminding us that no matter how kooky your ideas are, you can say them. There are countless people around the world that dream of making their own signs. Your protest frustrates me inside, but it reminds me to be proud to be an American.
You are an older gentleman. It would not surprise me if you were once a soldier or sailor yourself. Regardless of your military exposure, there is something you really should be aware of. Those men driving past you every day on their way to work were not asked their opinions for entering certain countries. I guarantee you there was no poll to see who wanted to go to war. No volunteering. No majority rules type of management. They were told. It is their job to do as they are told. A vast majority of them joined the military before we began the hunt for weapons of mass destruction. And, they signed contracts. I can promise you that if you gave those men the option of going off into harms way for months at a time and leaving their families behind or staying nice and safe at home . . . most would choose home.
The people that make all those important decisions are not driving by you here in Groton. They tend to be about 8 hours south of here. A protest would at least be seen by the people who can make those choices in Washington, DC. As special as I think my Hubby is, in the grand scheme of things, he’s not that powerful.
Those same people down in DC also have a one up on you. They know more. While I love the New York Times and fully believe in questioning our nation’s path, I am also aware of the vast amount of classified and secret knowledge I am not privy to. The service members must trust the person with the information. Some people may twist information or hide parts, but someone knows the full story. You have to have a level of faith that as an elected official they will do what is right. That comes with the whole democracy and electoral process your freedom of speech does.
Finally, sir, you make me sad. I am not old enough to remember the Vietnam fiasco. That was my parents’ time. I can witness the difference in pride and self worth that a World War II vet has from a Vietnam vet. The public was supportive of WWII. Parades welcomed the men home. Those returning from Vietnam were met with protests and hatred. You do not have to agree with being in Iraq or Afghanistan or any foreign country for that matter. But, please respect those who do their duty. There is no reason not to support the men and women who are in the military.
Maybe someday I will have time to stop and talk to you. I would love to learn your story. Perhaps you can hear mine, too.