WASHINGTON — A recent Gallup poll indicates that Americans rely heavily on bumper stickers, car decals and "moto decorations" to distinguish real war heroes from ordinary, run-of-the-mill veterans.
According to results published in the New York Times, almost all respondents indicated at least "quite a lot" of confidence in a motorist's service record and personal sacrifice solely from witty military appliqués and airbrushed American flags on a passing vehicle. Respondents increased their confidence to "a great deal" if it was on the back of a pick-up truck with an 8-inch suspension lift kit or Harley Davidson "Fatboy."
A recent AIT graduate, 19-year-old financial management technician Pfc. Paul White uses his truck to make a statement. He said that upon returning from the Joint Readiness Training Center he signed a lease for a Ford F150 and applied for a high-interest credit card to pepper his "whip" with "HOOAH" bumper stickers and POW/MIA murals.
"'Selfless Service' is one of the seven Army Values," White said while affixing a "Kill 'Em All, Let God Sort 'Em Out" sticker to his tailgate. "but what good is putting 'the welfare of the nation, the Army, and your subordinates before your own' if ain't no one knows about it?"
Retired janitor George Crowley of Arlington agrees with those polled. He felt "a great deal of confidence" that blindly acknowledging warriors by the amount of badges haphazardly slapped onto a motorcycle helmet or windshield is reducing the civil-military gap to its smallest size in years.
"I am glad there is a cheap and readily available method for veterans to display their elite status," said wheelchair -bound, ex-janitor George Crowley. "Back in 2002, when I lost the use of my legs saving all those kids from a school bus fire, these fierce warriors weren't as comfortable identifying themselves as they are today. Now? You can't go anywhere without these humble and reverent service members letting you know about their accomplishments."
Crowley pointed to a heavily tinted and overtly patriotic 2015 Chevy Silverado currently double parking in the only two handicapped spaces near the entrance to the Chevy Chase Pavillion shopping center.
"Heck, I can't even get mad when people park in a handicapped space if I see a 'Bronze Star for Merit’ license plate on their bumper,” said Crowley. "And, if my wheelchair battery has enough juice left in it from transporting me from the back of the parking lot to the sidewalk, I shake that courageous veteran's hand and thank him for his service."