By now, I’m sure you’ve noticed the ubiquitous “yellow ribbon” decals, magnets, etc. that have become the ever-so-trendy form of patriotic expression lately. First, let me be clear: I don’t mind people expressing their support for the troops. On the contrary, I think that’s a wonderful sentiment and all Americans should pay the troops the respect that is due. It’s not the genuine display of patriotism that has me riled up. It’s the war-profiteering, opportunistic low-lifes who are making a fortune off of people’s emotions that piss me off.
There are hundreds of companies hawking these ribbons, and turning a fair profit from it, I imagine. These things come in all varieties in an attempt to appeal to every possible demographic, thus maximizing profits. The basic decals request that we simply “Support Our Troops.” For those who want to get their god on, they’ve got “God Bless Our Troops,” “God Bless the USA,” “Pray for Our Troops” and “One Nation, Under God.” Finally, for the more in-your-face patriot types, there’s “Freedom Isn’t Free!”
But the real reason I’m mad is because the opportunistic jerks that are selling these things typically don’t give any of their proceeds to charities that actually support the troops. They are, by and large, out to make a buck off of unsuspecting patriots. That is fucked up.
So here’s what you need to do, people. If you want one of these stickers then, by all means, please get one. But before you fork over your hard-earned cash in a moment of patriotic fervor, please make sure that the money will be doing something better than simply lining the pockets of some money-grubbing, heartless chump.
After a quick Google search, I found the Stars and Stripes Shop, a company that donates a portion of its revenue to the Freedom Alliance Scholarship Fund. According to their website, “The Freedom Alliance Scholarship Fund honors the bravery and dedication exhibited by Americans in our armed forces who have sacrificed life and limb by providing educational scholarships to their children.” That, ladies and gentlemen, is what patriotism is about.