To the editors:

Yeah, those were some sad tales about those Marines coming back from the gulf war [“When John M. Came Marching Home,” January 17]. But why should the rest of us worry? We were here waving our yellow ribbons when they came back, weren’t we? What did those yellow ribbons mean, anyway?

Well, those yellow ribbons were a huge sigh of relief from the rest of Americans who were secure in the knowledge that they did not have to go and fight for their country. You see, those reservists were part of the serf class in this country, cannon fodder who, for the last couple of wars, were available to die for the rest of us.

Surprised? Why? The world has mercenaries (that’s us) and WE have cannon fodder! Just think of it! All those guys who send your sons over there to die don’t ever have to worry about dying themselves. All those hawks! All those patriots!

Who? Why, the Dan Quayles, the Neil Bushes, the Darmans, Sununus, Richard Perles, Elliott Abrams, the Newt Gingrichs, Trent Lotts. Where were they during Vietnam? Well, they were all hiding in grad schools, or deferred, or hiding out behind their riches and privileged lives. Yeah, they knew that those poor serfs would go out there and fight. One word from the Pentagon, and they would be out there fighting godless communism, or battling for our right to get 16 miles to the gallon . . . it’s in the tradition of John Wayne, Sylvester Stallone and our fearless Defense Secretary, Dick Cheney. (Where was HE during Vietnam?)

Well, he was hiding out too, along with those fearless columnists George Will and Patrick Buchanan. You see, if they had been wiped out in Vietnam, they wouldn’t be around to send THIS group of serfs out there to defend Democracy!

Those 55,000 troops that died in Vietnam? Expendable. The reserve companies of Marines from Foster Avenue? Expendable. Just like the 100,000 or so Iraqi civilians we did away with over there. What did our brave General Colin Powell say about them? He said it was “not a number he was terribly interested in.” Expendable too, those peasants.

It’s too bad, and I sympathize with all of them. Also, I hope we all appreciate the Reader publishing things like this. No one else does.

David B. Zoellner