Friday, December 08, 2006

Sad Sack, Chritmas and Iraq

The recently-released Iraq Study Group report may or may not mark a change of direction for the United States. For the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan this Holiday season, the report does not change a thing.

Sad Sack’s grandsons and granddaughters, they remain at war half way around the world. It’s Christmas (or insert the holiday of your choice). Our troops are waiting for the politicians who sent them there to figure out how to bring them home.

Sad Sack was a World War Two cartoon character – a citizen soldier – a draftee dogface who reflected all things GI back to the troops, and to people reading the funny pages back home.

Chow. Training films. Latrine duty. Combat. Sad Sack endured it all with a certain Buster Keaton-esque nobility. Especially the risk and indignity born of bad policies and half-witted decisions made by higher ups.

Sad Sack lived on as a comic strip and comic book character after the war. The character and the attitude were there throughout Vietnam.

“There it is,” we used to say when we witnessed some especially egregious example of government and political numbskullery.

Henry Kissenger spent months debating the shape of the table before the Paris peace talks got serious. There it is.

It’s 110 degrees outside and they’re serving liver in the mess hall. There it is.

But the essence of Sad Sackhood has been lost on the general public in this war. We have an all-volunteer military now. We no longer share the GI experience or perspective. Our war-weary media doesn’t show us much of every day life at the front.

We should, however, understand how it feels to be an American soldier at war at this time of year. We should take time. We should stop shopping and just sit there and think about them.

I’d suggest this:

1. Go find two songs: “White Christmas,” and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.”
2. Find some way to play them back-to-back a few times.
3. Sit there. Listen. Picture yourself Sad Sacking it over there.

There are GI’s over there who are on their third or fourth tours. They have families back here who are on their third or fourth tours too. The Iraq Study Group report says maybe 2008…


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