December 24, 2005


From Heckles to Halos: In dramatic contrast to the Vietnam War era, U.S. service personnel now are being treated to strangers' spontaneous bursts of gratitude. (Faye Fiore, December 24, 2005, LA Times)

There's a diner called Peggy Sue's about eight miles outside of Barstow, and as hard as Lt. Col. Kenneth Parks tries, he can never seem to pay his bill.

He orders a burger and a chocolate shake. But before he's finished, the waitress informs him the tab has been taken care of by yet another stranger who prefers to remain anonymous but who wants to do something for a soldier in uniform.

Many Americans have conflicted feelings about the Iraq war, but not about the warriors. The gestures of gratitude and generosity that occur with regularity at Peggy Sue's — across Interstate 15 from Ft. Irwin, a military desert training site — have become commonplace across the United States.

A spontaneous standing ovation for a group of soldiers at Los Angeles International Airport. Three $20 bills passed to a serviceman and his family in a grocery store in Georgia. A first-class seat given up to a servicewoman on a plane out of Chicago.

These bursts of goodwill have little to do with the holiday season or with political sentiments about the war. In contrast to the hostile stares that greeted many Vietnam veterans 40 years ago, today's soldiers are being treated as heroes throughout the year, in red states and blue, by peace activists and gung-ho supporters of the Iraq mission. The gestures are often spontaneous, affiliated with no association or cause, and credit is seldom claimed.

On the other hand are the liberal elites, Stars turn backs on America's troops in Iraq (Jamie Wilson, December 24, 2005, The Guardian)
During world war two American troops away from home for Christmas were entertained by Marlene Dietrich, Bing Crosby and the Marx Brothers. Even in Vietnam Bob Hope was guaranteed to put in an appearance. But soldiers in Iraq are more likely to get a show from a Christian hip-hop group, a country singer you have probably never heard of and two cheerleaders for the Dallas Cowboys.

Just as the seemingly intractable nature of the war has led to a growing recruitment crisis, so the United Services Organisation, which has been putting on shows for the troops since the second world war, is struggling to get celebrities to sign up for even a short tour of duty.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 24, 2005 9:19 AM

Oh, I'm sure there are certain neighborhoods of the nation where folks are just saving up their spittle as part of plan to relive the early-70s (probably the same ones hoping to relive Watergate who are sending out all those impeachment e-mails to pollsters, the media and Congress right now).

Posted by: John at December 24, 2005 9:37 AM

We've won in Iraq, and most people like winners.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 24, 2005 9:53 AM

Michael: We won in Vietnam. The Dolchstoss Watergate congress abjured the treaty. Someday we shall know what assurances the North Vietnamese had been given by their agents before they dared to launch their masssive invasion of the South.

Iraq is not Vietnam. The focus of evil in the modern world had been done away with, so the foreign support of the "antiwar" side is almost nonexistent. Most importantly, there is no draft, so the cowards and slackers no longer need rationalize their shame with lies about the war and about the nature of the enemy.

Posted by: Lou Gots at December 24, 2005 10:26 AM

[C]owards and slackers no longer need rationalize their shame with lies about the war and about the nature of the enemy.

Except for Sean Penn, of course.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 24, 2005 10:42 AM

Who are the babykillers now? John Kerry should tour an abortion clinic, and then tell Congress about ears and heads being cut off.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at December 24, 2005 11:07 AM

Lou, you're quite right that we won the Vietnam war. In fact we won it over and over again as the civilian leaders kept changing the rules as they went along and when we "bugged out" we left a horrible blood bath in our wake. For that we should hang our heads in shame.

A soldiers comment: The other day I read a comment by a soldier that never occurred to me before. He said soldiers are all glad there's no draft because they know the people around them are on our side and want to be in the military. They don't have to worry about some anti-American types in battle with them.

Of course, it makes sense, but I still find it hard to believe that during the Vietnam war a draftee might have done something to harm his fellow soldiers or our country.

Posted by: erp at December 24, 2005 11:20 AM

The real value of having volunteers around you is the security knowing they're all volunteers and are with you out of personal choice. No victims there.

I saw one USO show in Korea in 1951 and loved it. Looking at todays celebrities I'd prefer to have the second stringers come by.

Posted by: Genecis at December 24, 2005 2:28 PM

There have been a few notable exceptions such as Bruce Willis

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at December 24, 2005 2:49 PM

Almost all lefties that I talk to, and I talk to a lot, really have no problem with the soldiers who are suffering in the current war; their beef is more with the criminal decision-makers who orchestrated the war. Much more anger is and should be directed towards those who have brainwashed our soldiers into viewing every Middle-Easterner as a possible terrorist, and treating them as such
Even in the left-leaning popular media (if there is such a thing), I have observed very little soldier bashing in the War on Terror. If you guys can point some out to me, I would appreciate it.

Posted by: Grog at December 25, 2005 4:17 AM

Every Middle Easterner a terrorist? Is that why we are helping them build a democracy? Grog, please buy a vowel or get a clue.

The WWE has made trips to the war zones. Most WWE stars are better actors than the Hollywood crowd, anyway.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at December 25, 2005 11:25 AM

You really have to not know anything about the military to think they view Iraqis as predominantly terrorists.

Posted by: oj at December 25, 2005 11:31 AM


I know a lot about the military. I know a lot of soldiers. I know you don't want to believe it, but I happen to be friends with quite a few. And most of them hate the administration, but a few of them actually believe the same misinformation that you do.

Posted by: Grog at December 25, 2005 1:10 PM

The Left:

Whoopee, we love our soldiers, except when they're brainwashed baby-killing bigots.

Same old same old.

Merry Christmas grog.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at December 25, 2005 1:18 PM

I think that the fact that re-enlistments among active duty members of the military are running at 110% of goals tells us all that we need to know about the beliefs and attitude of military members as a whole.

Reserve members of the military are NOT re-upping in great numbers, but that's hardly surprising.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 25, 2005 1:49 PM

hup two three four check your brain at the door.

Posted by: grog's army at December 27, 2005 7:07 PM