Then I run across something on my feed and it strikes me.
This is probably going to either piss you off or make you cry.
You've been warned.
For those of you who don't know, it was recently made public that a number of patriotic displays at games by various professional sports teams, covering effectively every major sport to include NASCAR, were actually government-funded events paid for by the DoD. None of these were listed as being paid for by the DoD, and to the average fan, probably looks like a patriotic gesture on behalf of that team or league.
There's been some hemming and hawing, and the NFL recently said they'd refund anything they considered inappropriate. And there's some yelling about, "how this happened?"
I think I know how.
Remember how I keep saying, "look back enough in history, and you'll find out why?"
Look up a modern American flag officer, from the invasion of Iraq to today. A lot of them are on Wikipedia. I'll wait.
If you looked, you probably notice their date of enlistment or commission was somewhere in the 1970's. Dunford, Casey, Petreus, McChrystal, Odierno, Mattis was in 1969, but you get the point.
Each and every last one of our flag officers were boots to the Vietnam generation. They were the ones who saw themselves, their instructors, and their seniors treated like dogshit by the American public. The "Thank you" : "Fuck you" ratio was way skewed on the nastier side.
No ticker tape parades.
Just angry hippies and a bus ticket home.
And every last one of them were there for it.
And they kept on going, through the fuckuppery of the 80's, Grenada, Panama, Desert Storm, all of that.
Then 9/11 happens. And they knew we were going to war (although nobody knew how big it was).
And each and every one of these officers knew one thing.
They could NOT rely on the support of the general public.
Oh, we pulled together on 9/11. But we were still pulling bodies out of the rubble when the arguments over "why" and "who" and "what should we do" ensued.
We could rely on our military families, of course. People who knew what blue and gold stars meant. And yeah, people who had friends or family who served.
But the general population? A "meh" was the best they could hope for.
And they knew how devastating that was.
They'd seen the walking ghosts their mentors had become when vanishing into civilian life.
They saw the rising homeless veteran population.
They knew we'd reached a place where 22 of us who ever wore a uniform take their lives every single fucking day.
This war was going to be big.
Support for those who fought and those who came back was going to be vital.
And they could NOT rely on the American public to do it.
Sounds crazy, but...
... football star Pat Tillman dies from friendly fire. The Army covers it up to make it look like he died from enemy action. Ass-covering to save careers of his superiors? Or an attempt to gain needed public sympathy?
... Grossman's bullshit Sheepdog theory turns from a dry, simple theory in his book into a godsdamn cottage industry that takes over a huge chunk of the moto Tshirt business. It's bullshit, but it's simple and it's seductive. It tells active duty operators fighting a godsdamned war that not only are they normal, good people, they're actually engaging in noble works. And it's a message they so desperately need to hear that they swallow it hook, line, and sinker in droves. Because nobody else is saying it.
... and now this "paid patriotism" bullshit.
Is it all ass-covering? All trying to avoid dealing with the usual weekend blotter bullshit?
Or is it a concentrated effort to prevent what happened to the Vietnam generation?
Yeah, we're not getting spit on today. But...
... every media depiction of us since 9/11 has been as bloodthirsty villians or PTSD-riddled victims. "Poor, poor pitiful victim of the big bad Bush" isn't as nasty as "babykiller," but it's still patronizing and insulting as fuck.
... The most critically acclaimed movie depicting the war? Centers around a batshit crazy EOD tech in a ludicrous plotline.
... Two films based on real-life accounts that depict actual fighters?
Both portray them sympathetically, both roasted over the coals by the industry press (Fascist Sniper? Go fuck yourself.)
Ironically, they're the only two movies based on the war that actually make any money.
Could NOT rely on the American public to give it.
And weren't going to leave their subordinates to the fate of their superiors.
So they put together anything they could from the P.R. equivalent of duct tape and bondo.
I don't know if that's what happened. But it makes sense.
It makes horrible, gut-wrenching sense.