Supporting our troops safely

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 24, 2003

One of the saddest results of the current war, and the terrorists who instigated it, is the perversion of a wonderful program. Because of the anthrax mailings, the potential for letter bombs and other threats, Operation Dear Abby and the Any Servicemember programs have been discontinued. What began as a way for Americans to comfort their troops, stationed far from home, has become an avenue for death and destruction.

It is a terrible thing - not because one GI won't be getting mail from a friendly stranger, but because it speaks volumes of our changing world, where we have to expect the worst in order to survive it.

Who would have thought, 200 years ago, that armed guards would have to be posted at the site of an accident to prevent people from robbing from the bodies? Who would have thought, 100 years ago, that, people would gather at the base of the building and chant "Jump! Jump! Jump" to a potential suicide on the ledge? Who would have thought, 36 years ago, when we first began sending letters to soldiers through Operation Dear Abby, that someone would use it as a means of terrorism?

It seems mankind has a limitless capacity for evil.

We are sure that there have been looters and grave robbers assassins and just plain vicious people in the past - history bears it out. Twenty years ago, someone shooting up a school was unheard of. Now, it seems to happen more every year. It is as though we are on an avalanche ride of depravity, picking up speed as we go.

Our only counterbalance is that the good people still far out number the bad - the bad just get more press. Take advantage of this situation to prove this point - if you cannot send letters and packages blindly to an unknown servicemember, you can show your support by emailing them. Even if you do not have a computer, there are places to access them at libraries and colleges. Staff members will be more than happy to help you through the process. Or, as the department of defense suggests, visit a veteran from a previous war. Donate to the USO for care packages, or buy a phone-calling card.

We can and we must overwhelm the darker aspects of our society by shining our own light on the world - offer support for the troops in ways that do not threaten their well-being. We will not let the darkness and dregs of our society win this war on any front - especially a moral one.