Monday, April 30, 2007

Armchair patriots

Spring had just descended upon the Capital Region when Don Neddo hobbled up the City Hall steps. Hundreds of miniature flag waving people that lined the city sidewalks of on downtown Glens Falls, waiting for the70-year-old conservative veteran from Waterford to issue a few terse grunts from the podium as he had done so many times in his life.

Then he caught glimpse of a long-haired fellow carrying picket by the street corner with some hackneyed anti-war slogan scrawled on it. Moments later, the seemingly innocuous old man lunged at the fellow nearly a third his age, delivering a haymaker to the bloke’s jaw, much to the amazement of the camera crews and reporters gathered at the so-called patriot rally.

For Neddo, the episodic outburst was a necessary show of force in the day and age where the troops overseas need as much support as the people can give them. And if it meant cracking his seven-decades old fist upside the head of some vestigial degenerate spawned from the sixties movement, then so be it; he was not going to let the men and women of the world most formidable fighting force down like America had during Vietnam.

One week later, Neddo, along with former WGY chatterbox Scott Allen Miller and many of their collective ilk, lead a similar rally 30 miles south amid the sprawl of Clifton Park. This time, thousands waved flags, wore yellow ribbons and chanted along with the wrinkled old man in what was perhaps the largest and most patriotic mass gathering the generally apathetic slice of suburbia had seen during the new millennium.

That was four years ago. Today, Neddo has virtually dropped off the face of the earth, after the Times Union revealed the lies he had propagated about his military service. “Scotto” as he now calls himself works for a claptrap radio show in Boston. And the patriot rallies? Well, they’ve seemingly gone the way of the dodo, despite pledges of their longevity among the fair-weather supporters who fiercely banged the drum of war in 2003.

The outlook for patriotism –or rather loyalty to the American cause –was much grimmer Sunday than it was just four short years ago. Instead of being greeted by throngs of flag waving masses, the 36th annual Loyalty Parade was greeted by a few more than two dozen people, The Glens Falls Post Star reported. Known in the city as the “first parade of spring,” the VFW-sponsored march from the post office steps was first established as a patriotic counter to the communist exploitation of May Day.

But today, the parade itself seems to represent a sad commentary about the growing apathy toward patriotic spirit, four years after a red-white-and-blue tidal wave swept across the country. Those who so virulently spoke out against anti-war activism and spit vitriol at anyone questioning the war effort have seemingly disappeared to the comfortable sanctity of thier armchairs and AM talk radio booths.

That didn’t stop Clay Beaudet for placing the blame for Sunday’s lack of patriotism. It’s the politicians, he cried to the Post Star reporter; the politicians and the media that are behind this.

“The politicians are making up their minds for their own benefit, and the press is making things up completely,” he told the reporter.

Strangely enough, the politicians and the media were some of the few that did attend the event despite the paltry turnout. Glens Falls mayor Roy Atkins attended the affair despite having a brain tumor removed days earlier. And the Post Star contributed nearly 500 words worth of copy to the event, albeit in a less-than-flattering-but-truthful report.

Noticeably absent, however, were all the self-professed patriots from the 2003 rallies like Neddo and Miller, who don’t seem to find it as fashionable these days to offer their public “support” for the past and present soldiers of America. But who knows, maybe they’ll turn up the next time hostilities break out.


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