Blonde Justice wonders why some people have yellow ribbons on their cars. Here's why I have one:
My family has always had men who served in the military. I served, my brother served, my father served around the Vietnam era, family members served in WW II, we have memorabilia handed down from the War Between the States. Among people of our ilk there are very bitter memories of how members of the military have been treated; these memories are particularly strongly rooted in Vietnam.
Vietnam. When the Academy turned on us. Vietnam when large numbers of citizens evinced cowardice by refusing to serve either through manipulation of the system, draft dodging, or outright desertion (encouraged here). Vietnam when a massive victory over the enemy was reversed when members of the elite gave aid and comfort to the enemy - the most remembered even going so far as to tour enemy military compounds and actively provide propaganda through misrepresentations of what was happening to POW's. When soldiers dared not wear their uniforms in public because they would be spat on and called fascists or baby-killers. When the citizenry at best abandoned and looked down those serving, at worst attacked and belittled them.
I know that an intelligent rebuttal can probably be made to every one of those points. It won't change the perception one bit. There is too much smoke in the air to deny the fire. The disagreements about policy and the war were not constrained to the political arena; they were actively played out in the refusal to serve and the wretched treatment of those who served.
There are those who would tell you this has changed. They are both right and wrong. The forces which brought this about before are still there; however, they do not have the popular support they had during the Vietnam era. These forces are just as anti-soldier as before they just can't say it out loud. However, at times it comes through loud and clear.
1991 - Operation Desert Shield / Storm leads to desertions by some who refuse to live up to their obligations. I was not in the States at the time but I clearly remember reading papers from home telling how these deserters were being lionized by certain people. Supporting deserters is anti-soldier.
1993 - The infamous incident in 1993 with General McCaffrey
I had just walked out of the southern entrance, passing an attractive woman. I'm in uniform. Fifteen rows of ribbons. A beautiful day. I said, happily, Hello. How are you? She said, I don't talk to the military, and stomped by me. I don't actually know if she was in the administration, but I assume she was.At This Time - There are those who deny the anti-war movement has ever been anti-soldier ("While there's little doubt that some Vietnam vets in uniform were spat upon during those turbulent years, no proof exists that antiwar protesters were the spitters.") and there are those encouraging soldiers to desert. Rallies have taken place all over the place but mostly in DC, San Fran, and places to the North-NorthEast. One doubts an active duty soldier would be welcome.
Personally, I experienced a watered down version of all this when I would come home from the Army on leave and people would ask me what went wrong so that I had to join up and express compassion for me because I was in the military.
Anyway, the reason for the ribbon is not so much for the troops. A soldier really doesn't need to be reassured that veterans are behind him. Displaying the ribbon definitely isn't so that some money can be sent to do something for the soldiers. I never believe those claims; I developed a healthy cynicism toward them as I watched all sorts of soldiers getting ripped off buying POW/MIA stuff which was going to funnel money into investigating what happened to those left behind (with the amount of money that should have been since raised since hostilities ended the manufacturers could have bought every square inch of Vietnam by now). Anyway, our soldiers are usually well taken care of as far as niceties go.
The reason for the ribbon is to remind people of the shameful way that our nation behaved toward soldiers in the past and remind them that it will not be tolerated this time. The perception from where I'm at is that the reason it's not done in the major cities is because it is socially unacceptable. To have the ribbon showing support for the troops is to invite ridicule or perhaps even vandalism. And if the attitude is such that an open show of support will not be tolerated then we must all be concerned what the attitude of the future will be. I have a ribbon on my vehicle to show that that next step is not acceptable, not now, not ever.