Re " 'Support the Troops' Means Nothing," Commentary, March 24: I think Crispin Sartwell needs to look up the word "patriot" in his dictionary; then he can assess whether this phrase is trite or overused. Yes, Americans have the right to dissent and express themselves. However, these rights have been protected and preserved by American servicemen and women spilling their blood and sacrificing their lives. With due respect, Sartwell should ask the people who died on 9/11 about their rights, or the people in Iraq about their right to dissent. Yes, I will continue to proudly use the slogan "Support our troops" because it sends a message to all Americans that the troops need to do their duty, protect their country and come home safely.
Saying that being pro-war is "supporting our troops" is like saying that arson is supporting our firefighters.
Those who take part in pro-war demonstrations and those who take part in antiwar demonstrations are having their taxes used to "support" the troops with armaments, supplies, etc., so all are supporting the troops. All of us are forgoing health program improvements, infrastructure repairs and improvements and school and education programs because of the billions spent on the war.
All demonstrations remind the troops (and the enemy!) that the U.S. is a democracy where dissent is not just tolerated but encouraged. Quite a contrast to the country we're battling in. Actually, quite a contrast to many of the countries that claim to be on our side.
I do not support our troops to make me feel all fuzzy inside. It is to show support for our men and women in harm's way. When my father returned from Vietnam in 1969, he was told to leave the base by the side gate and in civilian clothes. Returning Vietnam vets were being physically attacked by "protesters" as they left the base by the front gate.
During this war, I fly my American flag on my car so that if any GI, or his or her loved ones, happens to see it, they know that at least one U.S. citizen appreciates the sacrifice they have made on my behalf.