If you’d told the Oakland Raiderettes that they’d be heading to a place that has warm weather, a tradition of fear based on a fanatical dictator, and thousands of people who are all dressed the same and have a trained predilection toward combat, the cheerleaders wouldn’t bat an eye - that describes every Raiders home game of the last ten years.
It also describes Iraq, unfortunately, and that’s where the young ladies set off to last week. Once there, they put on their variety show for our soldiers at COB* Basra last week. According to REDBULLS.ORG, the official website of the Army National Guard’s 34th Infantry Division, the Raiderettes didn’t disappoint:
The Basra heat found some strong competition this night, but the Raiderettes were not to be denied their place in the hearts and minds of service members crammed up against the Morale, Welfare and Recreation stage. Camera flashes erupted like an approaching storm yet were still outshone by the smiles of the Oakland Raiders’ ambassadors.
“We look at (the Soldiers) and we know that we’re going through it and we’re trying to be soldiers for them and be strong for them,” [cheerleader Cole] said, solemnly. “We know that they do this every day and to experience that is very humbling to us.”
We’re sure there were no complaints from the soldiers in attendance, as their guests were much more photogenic than the other people from the football world on a tour. No offense to Rick Neuheisel, but he hasn’t looked good in a skirt in years.
(Editor’s note: A quick, non-jokey, non-sports related aside follows for the next two paragraphs; if you’re not interested, please skip to the pictures of the cheerleaders below. We won’t be offended.)
On one hand, there’s been little - if anything - as banal and childish as the “I Support The Troops” magnetic ribbon/chest-puffing that has gone on during the Iraq/Afghanistan Wars. Ribbons don’t support troops, ribbons are outward expressions to be seen by people who, by definition, aren’t over there. They don’t protect our soldiers from harm and they don’t get them back to America any sooner. If they’re not accompanied by real support, they’re shallow and meaningless.
Buuuut… at the same time, the actual support for the troops has been immensely higher than, say, the Vietnam War. Nobody who fights for our country is being spat upon when they come home, nor are there fanatics on either side of the political spectrum who are pulling a Jane Fonda. (Seriously, there’s not. If you believe this, stop, because you are a moron.) So perhaps we can at least look at the jingoistic tendencies of the post-9/11 world and at least be thankful that they’ve set the right tone for how we as Americans treat our own men and women in uniform.
Sorry, I’ve been wrestling with that for years and I’ve never really had an appropriate opportunity to air it out until now. Anyway, the cheerleader pics:
Thanks, gals. And guys.
*Contingency Operation Base, but I’m sure you already knew that.