Monday, April 11, 2005

Let's Support Our Troops AND The Folks Back Home

A great number of my junior high students have been wearing a variety of colored wristbands lately. One that has become very popular down here in the California desert is an olive-green one that says "Support Our Troops" on it. This may be due to the fact that we have a military base nearby.

Being curious, I asked one of my students where she got hers. She told me that they were for sale in our local 7-Eleven Store. I assumed (wrongly) that they probably cost around 99 cents.

On Saturday, I happened to go inside my local 7-Eleven in order to purchase some soft drinks. And what did I see for sale beside the cash register? I saw a box just full of those olive-green "Support Our Troops" wristbands.

The friendly clerk told me that they sell for $2.99. With tax, the total cost was $3.22.

The bands were attractively packaged, and featured the logo (similar to the patch above) of the
United Services Organization in the upper left-hand corner. The opposite corner was emblazoned with the 7-Eleven corporate logo.

The package indicated that $1.00 of the purchase price will be donated to the U.S.O. In fact, 7-Eleven seems to be promoting these wristbands with
some fanfare:
7-Eleven customers can support American troops and the United Service Organizations (USO) by purchasing a “Support Our Troops” wristband. For each wristband sold, $1 will be donated to the USO to fund programs and services for military service members and their families worldwide.

Suitably camouflage-green in color, the wristband is embossed with “Support Our Troops” on one side and “USO” on the other. They are currently rolling out to participating 7-Eleven stores nationwide and will be available exclusively at those 7-Eleven stores while supplies last.

“Americans want visible ways to show their support for the individuals serving our country,” said Jim Keyes, president and CEO of 7-Eleven, Inc. “They have flags at their homes, bumper stickers on their cars … now they can wear their support on their arm. Besides providing a visible way to say thank-you to our troops, the wristbands help raise much-needed funds for the USO, which has uplifted those serving in immeasurable ways both in times of war and peace.”

“Purchasing a wristband not only supports the USO’s efforts on behalf of service members around the world, it also is a visible sign of support for those men and women who are sacrificing so much for their country. The USO greatly appreciates the support of 7-Eleven,” said Edward A. Powell, USO president and CEO.

We think that the U.S.O. is a very worthy cause that merits our financial support.

Even though I didn't care for the fact that the lion's share of the purchase price was going into the pockets of 7-Eleven, I prepared to buy a wristband.

It was when I turned the package over, that I saw the words that greatly disappointed me. What I saw caused me to put the package back where I found it.

Written on the back, in small script, were the words, "Made In China."

I'm disappointed that the organization that has worked so hard to support our American fighting men and women for so many years and through so many conflicts would now allow itself to become associated with a corporate entity that would import this particular expression of patriotism from a supplier that is located in a nation that is dominated by such an authoritarian regime.

I've not forgotten that it was the government of Authoritarian China that
massacred unarmed students for doing nothing more than asking for their basic human rights.

As for the current war in Iraq, the mainland Chinese have been notable for their opposition.

If there was ever a time to employ a U.S. manufacturer, it would be to sell a product that proclaims, "Support Our Troops."

Sadly, the 7-Eleven Corporation did not choose to support the folks on the home front by selecting a U.S. manufacturer for the company's public expression of patriotism.

The directors of 7-Eleven should have known better.

I still intend on donating to the U.S.O., but I'll do it through this link.
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