Tribute to the Troops

This past week, several RAW Superstars made the trek over to Afghanistan for this year's RAW Tribute to the Troops, which will air next Monday night on USA. There's all kinds of good stuff here on from the trip: photos, a web log from Mick Foley about his trip, and a bunch of video shout outs from those stationed overseas.

People have asked me why anyone would voluntarily go into a war zone like that to perform for the troops. Well, since they came back, everyone I've talked to has said it was one of the greatest experiences of their lives. Not only that, but the troops were actually thanking THEM for coming over and providing a small piece of home.

I know that many of you might not think that is so absurd, so let me put this in perspective. Here at World Wrestling Entertainment, our job is to put on a show to entertain the fans. While we're only on television a few hours a week, the boys are on the road four or five days a week all year round, performing in a different city in front of different fans every night. Sounds like it can get pretty hard, right? Well, the troops are "on the road" 24/7 for months at a time, thousands of miles from their loved ones, never knowing if they'll see them again or if their next breath will be their last.
Actually, there are several current and former sports-entertainers that have served in the military during war time. Former WWE Superstar Road Dogg is not only a member of the famous Armstrong wrestling family, but he's also a veteran of Operation Desert Storm. Chilly Willy, who wrestled in ECW at the end of the promotion's existence, left the business to join the Army after the tragedy of September 11. Luckily, both of them made it back home to their families. There are also a lot of guys that wrestle in smaller independent promotions that you've probably never heard of, like Bobby Quance, who announced on September 11, 2004 that he was leaving the business to join the Navy, or Joker, who put his career on hold earlier this year to go to Fort Benning, Georgia to prepare for possible deployment to Iraq. Whether you know them or not doesn't matter, because it isn't about popularity over there.

Like it or not, this situation affects everyone. Personally, one of my best friends just got out of the Marines after 8 years, and was happy because this was the first holiday season where he knew he would get to see his family. I still have a few friends in the Army, at least one of which I know is stationed overseas.

As I said earlier, there's a bunch of video clips elsewhere on from troops stationed overseas. You better believe I'm watching those as they come in, because who knows if I'll see my buddy Pete wishing his family a Merry Christmas, or one of my other friends who is in the military. Have you ever watched Survivor and seen how emotional people get when they get a letter from their loved ones? Those people have only been in the jungle for a few weeks and know they're going home soon. Multiply that by about 50,000, and that's the kind of feeling that even a 10 second clip from a loved one you haven't seen in a long time can give people in this situation.

It all comes down to respect. And as you sit around with your families and friends this holiday season, think about those who don't know whether they'll ever see their loved ones again, let alone celebrate a holiday, birthday or anniversary with them. And when you watch the Tribute to the Troops next week, remember that whether or not you love or hate some of our Superstars, they still went over there to say thank you to the real heroes. You can have any opinion you want on the war effort itself, but don't take that out on those who are in combat. They're just the messengers.

Next week, I'll be back with something a little lighter, but before I leave my forum for now, I want to address something that makes me embarrassed to be a wrestling fan. This past weekend, a promotion in Philly paid tribute to Eddie Guerrero's passing with a 10-bell salute during their show. Apparently, in the midst of the salute, some jerk yelled "F THAT!" and nearly incited a riot. Obviously, I can't tell you what the F stands for, but I think you can figure it out. The wrestlers in the ring even nearly went after the guy, but had enough sense to hold back. The promoter came out shortly afterward, and ordered security to refund that guy's ticket and kick him out of the building, to which apparently the entire audience applauded. While I highly doubt that 95 percent of the men in that promotion's locker room have ever even met Eddie, it was a gesture that proves that this business is like a fraternity, and the way they handled that disrespectful idiot was even more commendable, so kudos to them. Point blank, this guy is a jerk, and had the nerve to disrespect a wrestler at a wrestling show. Don't be like that guy, folks. Hate or love what they do, but at least respect that every minute of every show is for you.

And with that, it's time to step off my soapbox for now. Maybe my words mean nothing because I'm just some schmuck who writes on the internet, but at least think about it. 

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