December 13, 2007

When I was a kid, my class would have to write cards to soldiers in Vietnam during the holidays, our teachers reminding us that these men and women were far from home and all the comforts of the holidays. I remember hearing how much it meant to the troops to get these little packages with childish scrawls and pictures, along with the socks and chocolate and other treats we would send along to bring them a little bit of home in the Vietnamese jungle. Maybe that's why this seems so simultaneously poignant and pathetic.

Hundreds of thousands of holiday cards and letters thanking wounded American troops for their sacrifice and wishing them well never reach their destination. They are returned to sender or thrown away unopened.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks and the anthrax scare, the Pentagon and the Postal Service have refused to deliver mail addressed simply to "Any Wounded Soldier" for fear terrorists or opponents of the war might send toxic substances or demoralizing messages.[..]

USO spokesman John Hanson said that like the military, the nonprofit service organization does not deliver unopened mail to unspecified recipients. He said the USO worries about security as well as hateful messages from war critics.

"We just want to make sure it's not, `Die, baby killer,'" he said. "There are people out there who act irrationally, and we don't want anyone to get a message that would be discouraging."

That's right...you can put your life on the line, but we think you're too delicate for bad words on a card...as if people who are against the war are calling the troops baby killers. It's a disgusting slur on both the troops and those of us who want them out of harm's way.

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