Monday, August 29, 2005


A Small Town Turns A Corner

About two months ago I wrote a post titled Stories You Won't Hear From Matt & Katie. It told the stories of two of my former students that were deployed to Iraq and their erratic behavior upon returning home on leave. To make a long story short, one of them tried to get himself arrested and the other tried to overdose on pills and alcohol. Both were trying to avoid returning to Iraq.

As I sometimes do, I cross-posted the story in the diaries over at dailyKos. As luck would have it, it made the recommended list. Glinda, one of the contributors there, asked if I would return to the subject and do a follow-up in a couple of months to see if the attitude of my town had changed any. So for Glinda, here's the follow-up.

Since my original post, it's been difficult to ascertain the mood of the town. On one hand, the support for the troops seems to be as high as ever. I'm still seeing those yellow ribbon magnets on practically every truck, car, and SUV in town. I've also seen an increase in the number of yard signs expressing support for a son or daughter or husband currently serving overseas. It appears as if everyone in town knows someone that is currently serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.

But on the other hand, I have seen a decrease in the number of pro-Bush yard signs. However, this may not be significant as it could just be that people were too lazy to take them down after the election and have just now managed to get around to it. But it does appear that the pro-Bush banter has died down a bit. But once again, that may be due to the fact that the fervor over the last election has finally subsided. As I said, it's somewhat difficult to tell.

But this past week, it all became very clear. Because of the large number of residents currently serving in Iraq, some of the community members have organized a support group. Calling themselves "Hometown Heroes," in reference to our sons and daughter serving overseas, the group organizes fundraisers in order to provide care packages for our troops and to throw receptions upon their return. It's really an admirable thing that they are doing despite their hawkish attitude toward the war. So it was with this mindset that I encountered them last Thursday.

The occasion was the hometown festival parade. I wasn't surprised to see the group's name on the parade roster . After all, the festival's motto had to do with honoring the flag. It looked as if the whole group was there. They all had shirts on proudly displaying the group's name on the front and the names of our soldiers currently serving listed on the back. Their float was adorned with flags and the insignias of the different branches of the military. Everything looked the way I would have expected. And then I saw the back of the float. It boasted a sign that stated in large letters:



I was floored. I had to read the sign several times before I could believe it. But it was true. There it was written in great big letters for all to see.

So maybe there's hope. Maybe enough has finally become enough. I never thought it would happen here, but it appears as though it has. This doesn't necessarily mean that the town is becoming any less conservative, but maybe more people are finally waking up to the fact that the emperor truly has no clothes. Only time will tell, but I think this is a good sign. Maybe the fog is finally lifting.

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