The NRA has decided to offer all active-duty troops a complimentary year’s membership. The $35 per is not exactly monumental, but the NRA could gain thousands of lifelong members out of this dandy bit of PR. And while the fact that the latest issue of American Rifleman may be at a soldier’s doorstep his first day home from combat isn’t ideal, I think the NRA is on to something fundamental.
Now, of course, soldiers should be paid enough that they can pay for their own memberships, but when it comes to thanks-giving troops should get free memberships everywhere, to gyms, museums, rotary clubs, Costco. They should get to the head of the line at movie theaters, the DMV, for Southwest flights; we should be yielding to our troops at every turn (not to mention ensuring they get proper medical care, and jobs). Instead, we likely treat them like any other strangers; we honk at them for cutting us off, hustle in front of them at the grocery store, and generally ignore the sacrifices, and adjustments, these men and women are making.
Of course, unless you live in a company town, you likely don’t know who is soldier and who civilian. And since there’s no draft, there is a convenient majority who doesn’t know anyone who is serving or has served. So what if we treated everyone we meet as if they might have put themselves in harm’s way to protect our right to cheap gas and bulk goods?
I know, it’s not gonna happen. But the NRA, in its twisted way, has the sentiment right. Say thanks with substance (the go-out-and-shop, post-9/11 GWB-inspired variety of patriotism), because when it comes to returning home, our troops deserve all the perks our lifestyle affords. Not that such perks will make coming home much easier, but they just might make us feel better.