Look around you: It’s everywhere. On anything — from billboards to beer bottles and from bumper stickers to Twitter feeds — you can find one of the phoniest, most prominent misuses of nationalism the United States has ever seen. Three simple words: “Support Our Troops.”
This slogan melts the hearts of Americans because of a common endearment for the armed forces, but has anybody thought about what it means? If a company advertises its product next to an enormous “Support Our Troops” inscription, why do we assume a connection between the product and the U.S. military? Political analyst Noam Chomsky perfectly pens the big-hat, no-cattle truth behind this strategy. “You want to create a slogan that nobody is going to be against and I suppose everybody will be for, because nobody knows what it means, because it doesn’t mean anything.”
The genius behind “Support Our Troops” lies in its impeccable foundation. What differentiates this slogan is the tie to what Americans cherish so much. Everybody agrees with it. Nobody would disagree with the military, arguably one of the most prized possession of the United States of America, maybe preceded only by freedom and the National Football League. Like a downed power line or Social Security, if you dare to try to remove it or disagree with it, you will die. And as a soon-to-be Eagle Scout with dreams of serving my country as an officer in the military, I wouldn’t think of not supporting the men and women who suffer so that we might sleep in peace every night. However, supporting our troops consists of more than buying a product.
Support veterans benefits, military spending, veterans retirement pensions and increased wages. So many who agree with the slogan “Support Our Troops” would find these ideas repulsive, but these actions are all fruits of the same tree. The truth is, many Americans bite at the line but don’t realize that it’s nothing more than bait.
For companies and customers alike: If you use or fall for the line “Support Our Troops,” I hope you will also support government programs for veterans, military spending and, above all, support the overseas causes that millions of Americans have laid down their lives for. Next time you see those three words, think past the words and, as Ralph Waldo Emerson would say, “go put your creed into your deed.”
Sam Pahl is a student at Eden Prairie High School.