In WWII, we did more than wear yellow ribbons WAR IN THE GULF

Mike Royko

February 11, 1991|By Mike Royko | Mike Royko,Tribune Media Services

I GOT A PROBLEM," Slats Grobnik said. "See, I'm behind our troops over there, but I don't know what to do about it. I don't wanna just sit around watching Blitz Woofer and these other TV guys. I wanna do something."

No problem. Have you thought about flying a flag above your home?

"What good will that do?"

Well, I suppose it would let your neighbors know that you feel patriotic.

"I don't care what my neighbors think. All I want from them is not to walk their dogs on my front grass, the slobs."

Then you might consider wearing a yellow ribbon on your coat lapel or tied to your car antenna.

"For what?"

Because it would let people know that you would prefer that this country win the war, rather than see Iraq win it.

"Well any goof ought to know that. You think if I don't wear a ribbon somebody will think I got a pin-up poster of Saddam in my parlor?"

Of course not.

"So what good will it do if I pin a piece of yellow string to my jacket?"

It will let people who pass you on the street know that you are concerned.

"So some stranger knows I'm concerned. Everybody is concerned. My wife watches CNN so much that she knows that whole commercial about bleeding gums by heart. What good will it do to let some guy I pass on the street know that I'm concerned? Maybe he'll just think I spilled pea soup on my lapel."

I don't know. Have you thought of going to a support-the-troops rally?

"No. What happens if I go to one?"

Oh, you'll hear speeches, sing the National Anthem, cheer, yell, wave a flag and maybe you'll be on TV.

"Yeah? What good will that do? I mean, besides maybe getting me a screen test for a horror movie."

It will let the other people at the rally know that you stand shoulder to shoulder with them and that all of you stand shoulder to shoulder with our troops.

"What'ya mean, we stand shoulder to shoulder with the troops? They're dug in over in a desert gettin' ready to shoot it out with some real mean guys, and I'm sittin' here on a bar stool. And if I go to a rally, I'll be standing on a sidewalk instead of sitting on a bar stool. So either way, what good does it do, huh? At least sitting here, I ain't going to tie up a bunch of cops who got to work crowd control. Besides, when I see those things on TV, the people act like it's some sort of pep rally. I saw one guy hold up his finger and yell 'We're Number One.' What did the yo-yo think, this is a football game?"

Then all I can tell you is to call a talk show or send a letter to a newspaper and express your views.

"You mean I should say: 'If we gotta fight this war, I hope we win and that too many people don't get killed.' Then what happens?"

I suppose the talk show host will thank you and talk to someone else.

"That's it?"

Well, what do you expect?

"I dunno. But in World War II, when I was a kid, people did stuff. Everything was rationed. Gas, some kinds of food, anything they needed in the war. And people worked in defense plants, night shifts, day shifts, weekend shifts. And we saved grease and bought War Bonds, and put up signs saying that loose lips will sink ships. I walked around for a month with my lips stuck together with paste. They stopped making cars, you couldn't hardly buy a chocolate bar, and the feds would pinch black market peddlers. We had air raid drills and blackouts, and my old man was assistant air raid warden on our block until the night he had one too many and started shooting his shotgun at the street lights. He thought they was German planes. So at least people were doin' somethin' besides puttin' ribbons on their car antennas."

Yes, but we don't have defense plants anymore. And those industries that manufacture defense products have an ample labor pool. Jobs are snapped up as soon as they become available. Of course, you could buy stock in a defense contractor. Many investors have done that recently.

"Would that help the war effort?"

In a way. If the war goes on for a long time, you might turn a tidy profit on that stock. Then you would have more income, which would mean that you could pay more in taxes. And since this is going to be an extremely expensive war, that might help defray the cost.

"Is that going to help the troops?"

I suppose it might cover some burial expenses.

"That's not what I had in mind. Hey, why can't we have gasoline rationing?"

Because there's no gasoline shortage.

"What about buying bonds?"

They're already selling like crazy. Good, solid investment in a bear market.

"Then there's nothing I can do?"

You might try praying.

"I tried that. Korean War, Vietnam War."


"So the lines must have all been busy."

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