- - Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Reflecting on the long ovation given to the Army Ranger during President Obama’s recent State of the Union address caused me to remember an incident described in one of the histories I read about Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

In that instance, following a Stalin speech given to a large body, everyone rose to offer a standing ovation. However, there was an increasing anxiety among the attendees.

They thought that whoever first decided to stop clapping and sit down would be shipped off to the gulag. That apprehension was realized.

The parallel I draw is that, to this administration, our servicemen are theatrical props used to further perpetual public employment.

I think there is little genuine appreciation; instead, there is recognition that those who serve provide utility to a political class that never served.

In this case, each legislator understood there were numerous cameras scanning the joint session, hoping to photograph a member of Congress sitting passively while surrounded by peers still standing and clapping.

The true attitude of politicians was demonstrated in the recent government shutdown. Remember how the U.S. National Park Service erected barricades to prevent those in their 80s and 90s, who took Honor Flights, from visiting the World War II and Iwo Jima memorials?

The Department of Defense suspended death benefits to families of troops killed in Afghanistan. The Veterans Administration announced that soon payments for health and disability benefits would be suspended.

Independent of party, recently politicians have shown that they consider those who serve to be a distasteful (or at least embarrassing) constituency.

NOLAN NELSON

Eugene, Ore.