America still has the Army.
Oh, yeah. We can’t stop our people, many of them veterans, from shooting poison into their veins. We can’t promise the returning vet a union job that pays a living wage. We can’t stop the rich from eating us. We still defend slavery, some of us. We argue that groping women is natural. We’ve got religious kook-a-boos edging their way into the national dialogue. We’ve got Nazis in the streets and riots in the cities. We elect fools.
We used to brag that American workers made the most money and had the best standard of living in the world. We used to brag that America made the most and the best of everything, from toasters to cars. Texas produced more oil than anyplace on earth. Our tall buildings were the tallest; our medical care was the best.
So, we have the military, the last solid sacred thing in the country, the shiny killing businessend of the American dream.
We can’t out-think, or out-produce, or out-innovate those other countries anymore, but we can, by God, drop bombs on them until their whole country is hotter than the tip of a cigarette. We can, in the words of country music, “put a boot in your ass.”
That’s what we are now. That’s all we are now. We are the military.
We stupidly worship everything that wears a uniform because there’s nothing else left of successful America.
When I was a kid, we used to laugh at those countries where too many people were poor, the leader was a puffed-up fascist toad, the army ran the government and the money was the size of a pocket handkerchief. We knew damn well those countries couldn’t build a toaster factory, or lift their people out of poverty or solve their age-old, ever-simmering religious and racial rivalries. Only America could do those kinds of things. The People’s Republic of Failonia did not.
But Failonia always had an army, the biggest army it could afford, and a couple times a year, Failonia would throw a big military parade.
The Failonian tanks would rumble down the boulevard in Divisia, Failonia’s capital city, and the starving Failonians would stand on the sidewalk cheering because the big missiles and the stern-faced soldiers with machine guns meant that Failonia was just as good as the countries with the factories, and the money, and the pensions, and the health care.
After the parade, the Failonians would listen to a two-hour speech from their leader, a speech that leaked gun smoke and death from every orifice. The leader would announce in no uncertain terms that Failonia’s economy was the strongest in the world, that it’s people were the happiest people in the world, and that if any nation tried to push Failonia around, the Failonian army would crush that nation the way you crush an ant underfoot. And the leader would always remind Failonia’s neighbors, just across the border, that they better remain respectful or Failonia would wipe them from the face of the earth.
Honor our troops. Thank the veteran for his service, and make sure that, if the vet’s job only pays $9 an hour, then he gets a 5 percent discount on Veteran’s Day at the nearest all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant.
Respect our flag. Honor out brave troops. They’re all we’ve got left.
Hold the parade. If Donald Trump gets another term, by the end of it, he’ll be showing up at the parade in a general’s uniform. In Failonia, the leader always wears a general’s uniform.