Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Reno & The War

Just returned from the annual Romance Writers of America conference. Always a big deal. 2500+ women all in one hotel. It's something to experience. The conference was good in many ways. I had the opportunity to sell all the fantasy books I brought with me at the charity booksigning. $60K was raised for literacy. That's cool. And I had the opportunity to reconnect with friends, meet and greet agents and editors and learn a few new tricks.

A couple telling moments during the trip. The first was during the RWA's 25th anniversary awards ceremony. Someone had put together a video montage of images from the 1980's, '90's and 2000's. The crowd would react as they saw fit when an image appeared. When President Clinton's face appeared, the crowd cheered and clapped. Someone behind me shouted "Bring him back!" Shortly thereafter, Pres. Bush II's video clip appeared. The reaction was totally different. Nobody booed, at least no one near me. It was the near silence that caught my notice. No clapping, no cheering. Given that many of the women in that room have children or grandchildren serving in the Middle East and some of those will not come home alive, I'm not surprised.

As a counterpoint to that moment, I was sitting the Reno airport waiting for my flight to board when a group of folks assembled with signs and balloons to welcome a couple of the local boys home from Afghanistan. When the soldiers marched out the jetway, passengers rose to their feet, cheered and clapped. The two soldiers looked embarrased, to say the least. A few folks shouted, "Well done!" and the crowd kept clapping until they disappeared into the airport.

We're stuck in a ugly war we had no reason to fight. At least this time we're not blaming the troops thought somehow I suspect that will be cold comfort for the families who have lost their sons and daughters.

3 comments:

Derrick said...

My wife and I just got back from a two week vacation in Georgia and Florida. One morning we were having breakfast in a Shoney's and we saw three servicemen having breakfast. I offered to pick up the tab for their meal and they were really appreciative of the gesture and we chatted for a few minutes about how things were over in Iraq.

I relate this story not to show what a great guy I am but just to confirm what you've pointed out: a lot of people have a different attitude toward the soldiers who have served in the Iraq War than any otherin recent memory and unlike say, the reaction when the Vietnam soldiers returned home, today's America isn't holding the Iraq veterans responsible for the war.

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steve said...

On May 1, 1967, I trudged up to the Iowa City depot to see the last run of Rock Island No. 8. But I wasn't the only one there--a knot of people headed for the baggage car at the same time as a military honor guard detrained. It was also the last trip for a young man. Perhaps because of that sobering experience, I never blamed the ordinary soldier for that immoral war. But many did. I suspect that part of the reason was that most Americans still believed in what the Students for a Democratic Society called "participatory democracy." Buffy Sainte-Marie's popular song, "Universal Soldier" said straight out that "he's the universal soldier and he really is to blame." Thank heavens we're not blaming the common soldier this time, but there's a darker side to it--we no longer believe that the ordinary person has any power in Amerca--at least in Bush's America