We're Having A Party

Published 3/14/2006 12:01:36 AM
The American Spectator


Re: Ben Stein's Missed Tributes:

I read with quiet satisfaction your recent article "Missed Tributes." It was spot on.

It's sad that your views don't seem to be shared by the majority of those who trundle about Hollywood. I can say with certainty, however, that your views are largely shared by those I see every day. Let me tell you why I know that.

I am a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army Special Forces, stationed at Fort Bragg. Last Thursday night, we had our annual Formal Ball. This one was a really good time, with the ladies dressed as elegantly as a soldier's paycheck will permit, and of course the men were smartly dressed in either class A uniform or Dress / Mess Blues. We even had our own version of the "Oscars," with a slide show running on large screens depicting our latest combat tours to Afghanistan and Iraq, the fourth tour to Afghanistan and Iraq for our Group since this war began. In case you're counting, that's eight -- and I might be shy...

As I sat at the head table with our Group Commander and our distinguished guests and guest speaker, my wife and I enjoyed an elevated view of the grand ballroom where over 800 great Americans were seated. The tables were nicely appointed, complete with wine and floral arrangements. Quite a sight, especially given the men and the lovely ladies gathered before us. Among those present were many men who have literally been shot at, shot up and blown up, some more than once -- and some more than twice. Many were veterans of not only this war, but others as well dating back the last 30 years.

Many present last Thursday, by all rights, simply should not have been. Rather, they should have perished on that dusty distant field we know all too well by now. But they were present. For those who were not, meaning those we have lost not only in this present war, but all others as well -- we also had a table set for them. It was a table set for only one, and it remained pristine until the very end of the evening.

Among those attending, some bore the visible signs of their combat duty, and some were still on crutches. But they were there just the same. We toasted this great country, our leadership, the beautiful ladies present, and of course our fallen comrades. Then we all ate, danced and drank until the early morning hours...

Why is this important? Because Hollywood is not the only ones who can throw a good party. In fact, from my view -- there is not much any of them can do at all that's really worth a crap besides throw a party -- and at the end of the day that's not much to hang your hat on. And while we were having fun that night, there is one more group we also toasted - those who replaced us and were at that very moment on that same distant dusty field, manning a remote firebase, or on patrol, or perhaps even in a firefight -- or better yet looking for one.

So be encouraged by the knowledge that some of those who most deserve a good party had a damn good one recently. And Hollywood was not mentioned, honored, or invited.

The funny thing about actors these days is that many of them seem to have forgotten what they actually do. They act, meaning of course they pretend to be something they are not. George Clooney is a prime example. He often plays a tough guy, and some folks actually seem to think he is. He would not last five minutes with the men I am honored to serve with every day. And I can tell you from experience that when someone is hurt or worse yet killed, they don't jump up when the director yells cut.

There is an old saying you are likely familiar with. It roughly goes like this.

There are some basic types of people in this world. There are those who read history, those who write history, and those who make history. I spend my time with the latter. My slight variation on that old theme is simple and timely given your article. There are those who watch movies and those who make movies. Then there are those that movies are made about, or at least should be made about. My men are again, the latter -- and so are many thousands of everyday Joes and Janes that keep this nation moving forward. As for Clooney and his crowd of self righteous friends -- I respect and value, even protect their right to say what they will. And of course you understand that respecting a right is not to be mistaken for respecting a view put forward, in fact resulting from that same right.

I also have something else to say about the entire Hollywood bunch, namely that they are not deserving of the privilege of shining our boots. But since we are now mostly wearing rough out leather than does not require shining, perhaps we could find them a spot on latrine duty. Seems to me it might do them some good. It might surprise them to know we don't spend even a spare second wondering if they like us, care about us or think whether or not we are on track. It would be nice if they did, but it's simply not a requirement for success. Feel free to pass my thoughts to any and all of them the next time you have a chance contact at the local Starbucks out your way.

Finally, I have heard about your support of the troops and military families. I know about your visits with the families who have lost their loved ones, and your visits with the wounded. I know that you do more than talk, you participate, and I thank you for doing so.

Keep up the good work, and keep telling the truth.
-- T.S. Slemp, Lieutenant Colonel
Deputy Commander, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne)
Fort Bragg, North Carolina