Trouble with the Roanoke Star Helps Troubled Marriage
There is a NOFX song called “American Errorist” whose lyrics I’m particular fond of. The section I’m thinking about today goes:
Enemies of the planet
We finally have a common aim
A reason to forget about
and stand as a united front
It’s up to us
We must expose
We’ll start with one
(Can you guess which one they want to start with?)
Well, I didn’t realize it at the time, but it turns out traveling 22 days out of 30 adds quite a bit of strain on a marriage. As such, my time at home after my Colorado-Montana-Kansas tour has had its friction. The evenings in particular are accompanied by moments of quick conclusions and quick tempers.
Last night we were both settled in the awkward stances that had become all too typical the past week when the local news came on. Suddenly with the first story, Sean and I found a common aim, a reason to unite.
For those who don’t know, Roanoke calls itself the Star City. Roanoke has really embraced that identity – the local airport even has stars on its the carpet (I have become well aquainted with the Roanoke Airport carpet, thanks to frequent flight delays). Why stars? In 1949, a 88.5 neon star was placed on top of the prominent Mill Mountain, the Roanoke Star.
WDBJ’s lead story last night was about a color controversy with the star. Apparently, the star had been lit red, white and blue as a sign of support to the troops in Iraq. I was oblivious to that fact. I was also oblivious that as a sign of hope after the Virginia Tech shootings, the star was changed to all white.
The star has been white for 17 days now and apparently the city council recently said it would stay that way indefinitely (I believe their original intent was to keep it white for 32 days). Local veterans are upset by that fact and promising a fight. Some quotes from Vietnam Veteran, Steve Goodwin:
“I think the worst way to be perceived would be that city council is withdrawing their support of our troops.”
“We had a saying from the beginning that never again will one generation of veterans let down another generation. And it’s our job. We have to support them.”
Now, I am all for supporting the soldiers. I’m all for gestures of support for Virginia Tech as well. I’m also for people and cities keeping their commitments. But where Sean and I bonded is that we don’t think it is that big of a deal either way. We found Steve Goodwin, although he has admirable passion, to be a little on the dramatic side. He’s reading an awful lot of meaning into neon. Sure, it was a nice surprise to discover the colors had purpose, but the star is not an accurate sign of support of anything. I think the fact that I had no idea why the star was red, white and blue to begin with (This is horrible — I assumed people were lazy after July 4th) demonstrates the color scheme is not clearcut. I think white for Virginia Tech is just as ambigious.
Finally, I certainly don’t think we are letting down an entire generation of troops because the star is *gasp* white. I highly doubt my cousin in Iraq is going about his day thinking, “Well, at least the Roanoke Star is red, white and blue.” No! He is more likely thinking about doing his job right, how to keep his men and himself safe, the welfare of his wife and two sons, and looking forward to hear news from home.
Sean had a different speculation about my cousin’s thoughts, “He’s not thinking about the star. He’s thinking about other things like… oh yeah, how to NOT TO GET KILLED!”
Sure, a visual symbol is nice, but there a lot better ways to show your support. I think writing a letter to one of the soldiers or making a nice meal for his state-side family are simple gestures that would have a much more direct effect. Those simple acts of kindess will impact a soldier and his family a heck of a lot more than what color the Roanoke Star is.
That said, a survey indicates a majority of Roanokers want the star returned to its patriotic colors and that’s fine. It makes no difference to me and Sean. We already got our value out of the story. It brought us back to a common ground. Our conversation calibrated, we were able to move on to tougher topics.
And normalcy returned.