The Rest of The Time

Members of the service write to Karl.

To hear a man like Karl insinuate that only conservatives are really patriotic is a knife in the back to every man and woman in Iraq who serves here. At least a third of us voted against Bush and pals. The number increases every day that we stay here, forced to make bricks without straw for months on end.

We’ve been here for 6 months. We’re going to be here for at least 6 more. And next week we’re moving to a more ‘active’ sector because the unit there is rotating home and the are is still too hot to entrust to the IA or IP, most of whom are still not fit to guard a traffic light, despite two years of efforts on our part. For some of us, this is our second tour through Iraq. My unit, [Withheld] was the tip of the spear in OIF I. At least half of us are combat veterans of a major battle and liberals. Can any of your gang say that, Karl?

Never insult me and my fellow liberals again, Karl. Watching a fat, hateful thing like you that has never faced any greater danger in your life than a long golf shot denigrate every liberal who has put on a uniform is more demoralizing than ten thousand speeches that uphold America’s highest ideals from Sen. Biden or Byrd.

In the days after Sept. 11, I didn’t see much of my neighbors. The building I was living in was like a mini-UN: upstairs was a German carpenter and craftsman and his American psychologist partner; across the hall from them a young single systems analyst and his rotating cast of boyfriends; a married couple from South Africa and their son; and a Navy vet and his wife, who he met while stationed in Japan. All of them friendly and a whole lot of fun, and we all partied together that summer, but I don’t think we’d ever talked politics. Kids, booze, vacations, home improvements, bitching about the landlord, yeah; Bush, no.

A couple of weeks later when I was coming home to sleep and change clothes I finally ran into the Navy vet in the backyard and we sat down to talk a bit. I told him I thought it must make him feel good to see all the flags flying and the patriotism and love for country, to see gratitude for our veterans again.

He got angry and said hell no, it doesn’t. He said I’ve had a flag on my car for five years, I’ve had POW and MIA signs in my windows long before anybody else gave a damn. He said where were all these people, why didn’t anybody pay attention to veterans before something like this happened?

A.