On November 11, 2011 Daniel Tomé held a dialogue session in the Arts and Sciences building; just one of many sessions that have been, and are being held by the Office of Service-Learning. This particular lecture, held on Veteran’s Day, was titled Service and Being in Service. While Veteran’s Day was a subject of the discussion, the main focus of the dialogue session was that of the troops located overseas.
To start the session, two video clips and one audio clip were shown to the group. The first, the audio clip, was that of an interview of a family who had just lost a husband to the ongoing war in Afghanistan. The interviewee was the wife of the deceased soldier. She spoke of receiving the news, and that in order to make it to his funeral she induced the delivery of their child. She also spoke of the iPod with the recording of her husband’s voice on it, the only that was able to quite her son in the hospital nursery.
The first video clip was a Colbert report clip. This consisted mainly of the public reactions to Obama spending Veteran’s Day in South Korea speaking to the troops stationed there. There was also mention of a controversial comic that mocked the holiday. The second clip was an interview of the Director of Operation Shoebox, a non-profit organization that sends care packages to troops stationed overseas. Director Rod Hersh explained the items sent: toiletries, candy, beanie babies, letters, etc., and how the organization choses the recipients. The organization, composed entirely of volunteers (other than Hersh) gets its drive from the public support and pictures from the troops that they receive.
After watching and listening to all of the clips, the group held a discussion to vocalize the general reaction to each. Several of the voiced opinions were as follows: Several students found the comic regarding the Veteran’s Day holiday quite offensive, and believed the individual should not have published it. Another student brought up that the author was simple using his freedom of speech, which the troops are fighting for citizens to have. Other students brought up the job availability of the returning soldiers and veterans, a topic based on a handout that was given to the group. It was mentioned that these soldiers do have a right to work, but guaranteeing them jobs takes it away from other, possibly including other veterans.
When the discussion turned from the videos to the soldiers themselves, the conversation turned towards the war. Many students mentioned that there isn’t as much support for the war as there once was. Believed reasons for this included not understanding why soldiers are still overseas, public numbness, and lack of knowledge. When the war began, everyone knew why our soldiers were overseas, and what they were fighting for, but as the war has dragged on, the nationalism and support slowly disappeared. The numbness is a result from virtually the same thing. We have heard about the war for so long, the initial impact has been worn down to a point of indifference. Not hearing about what is going on is also a cause for the lack of public support.
As the war has gone on, it has fallen out of the center of focus, and thus left the mind of the public. While public support may not be what it once was, this does not mean the troops are any less important. They are still fighting every day, putting their lives on the line for the beliefs of this country. Whether we believe they should be deployed or not, we need to keep them in mind. Some may not support the troops being where they are, but we must still support the troops themselves. They are risking their lives; the least we can do is keep them in mind, understand what they are doing for us, and show the slightest support.