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Abigail Hall

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Paid Patriotism: The Artist Formerly Known as ‘Propaganda’


Last week, Senators Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and John McCain (R-AZ) released a report revealing the Department of Defense paid professional sports teams to host “patriotic events.”

Anyone who has ever attended a sporting event knows these well. Military personnel are featured on the jumbotron, huge flags are spread across the field, returning veterans are named “hometown heroes,” or asked to participate in half-time contests, ceremonial first pitches, and other activities intended to honor the US military.

Though seemingly a spontaneous illustration of national pride, the report revealed such actions to be anything but genuine. In fact, the report found that the Department of Defense had contracted with the NFL, NHL, MLB, and Major League Soccer to host such events, to the tune of $10.5 million taxpayer dollars.

In releasing the report, Senator McCain expressed his disappointment that sports franchises took federal funds for such purposes saying:
Americans across the country should be deeply disappointed that many of the ceremonies honoring troops at professional sporting events are not actually being conducted out of a sense of patriotism, but for profit in the form of millions in taxpayer dollars going from the Department of Defense to wealthy pro sports franchises. Fans should have confidence that their hometown heroes are being honored because of their honorable military service, not as a marketing ploy.
Criticizing these franchises is easy. Major league sports leagues certainly aren’t known as bastions of morality. People have taken the report as a chance to discuss how “capitalism” has cheapened even our armed forces. But the real villain here isn’t capitalism. It’s the government. While the DOD maintains that such payments were to enhance recruiting, it’s time we call these activities by their appropriate name.
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Washington DC’s 'Missing' Memorial


Washington, DC is home to a host of memorials. Walk in any direction for long and you’re bound to run into at least one of them. By far, the memorial that generates the strongest reaction from me is the Vietnam memorial. The name of all the US casualties are chiseled on the wall, from the start of the war to end. Someone is always there crying or making a rubbing of their loved-one’s name. What resonates with me about the memorial is that it’s strikingly cold, but hauntingly personal. It’s amazing how much emotion a name can generate—even on you don’t know. When I think that many of these men went to their deaths without a choice (as they were drafted), it’s hard to not feel emotional.

Certainly, the war memorials are full of tributes to the oft-citied “sacrifices of brave men and women who gave their lives defending our freedom.”

Although the city is full of memorials, there’s one group, one who arguably paid the highest price for all of the U.S. government’s interventions, for whom no memorial has been erected. It’s doubtful one will ever be built.

How could this be? What group has been denied honor in the nation’s Capitol?
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