Sports (and the rest of us) should support the troopsA balding man must still comb his hair; someone with a sweet tooth must take a bite from a brownie. And a soldier must do his job. We all do things that we don’t want to do at some point in life. We grumble, we dream of lottery tickets.
But the next time you think your job stinks, think about the soldiers in Iraq. Think about the young Koreans who are going there. They are soldiers, marked men to some, regardless of their purpose.
Stopping by the community bulletin board at my alma matter, I read a message left by a kid named Shin Kue. It said, “Hello everyone, I am soon leaving for Iraq.”
I have never met Shin; the only connection is my college. But I could not help but pray for this brave kid who seemed suspended between the reality of going to serve in a war zone, and having been a student a short while ago. I pictured him strolling around campus, thinking about a date with his sweetheart.
In times like these, games may seem unimportant. It’s worth taking the time, however, to contemplate what the sporting community can do.
We have stadiums in our country that could be renamed. Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears, comes to mind. Playing the national anthem before and after the game while a picture of the brave young men is shown on the scoreboard is another thing we could do.
Our commentators and broadcasters could mention their names and wish them the best on behalf of our nation. Whether they get satellite TV or the games taped and shipped to them, it would give them a tremendous boost.
Our soldiers will do their job at the risk of a bullet piercing their flak jackets. Someone won’t be able to watch any more ball games. There will be one less voice to chant “daehanminguk” when the national soccer team plays.
If we don’t acknowledge their sacrifice, we are even lower than the draft dodgers who apparently can’t go into the army because of health reasons, but can play 36 holes of golf.
Cheerleaders at all sporting events should hold up placards cheering our troops when they leave.
After our troops have been deployed, there might be more anti-war demonstrations. I am no warmonger, but I believe in troop morale, and a demonstration does not help them. Before anyone goes out into the street, I want them to write a letter to our troops. I want them to send soccer balls, ping-pong paddles, basketballs and baseball gloves so that they can try to relax, even with the knowledge that a sniper is lurking around every corner.
Forget the oil, forget the politics. But let’s not forget the youngsters out there. If he’s your brother, write a letter. If he’s your son, tell your neighbors about it and put a flag in the window. If he’s your friend and you see him on leave, buy him a cold one and tell him you are proud. Tell him you are proud that he is doing a job nobody wants to do. And if he is someone you don’t know, just pray for him.
by Brian Lee
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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