George Graham

Whaddaya Mean I Can’t Criticize “the Troops”?

I’ve always had an urge to kick sacred cows in the butt. Tell me I can’t criticize someone or something and you can bet the family jewels that’s just what I’ll do. Perhaps that’s one reason I always had a black eye during my years at boarding school.

So prepare to be shocked.

I don’t think the troops – anybody’s troops – are above criticism.

There, I said it and I’m glad, and if you think you can kick my 74-year-old rear end, step right up, buddy. I’m walkin’ on the fightin’ side of you.

I refuse to pretend that every single soul who puts on a uniform is a saint and a martyr. What about the U.S. Marine who killed his pregnant girlfriend and ran off to Mexico? Is he above criticism? And those Blackwater thugs who massacred some two dozen innocent civilians in Iraq?

The armed forces all over the world, and probably throughout the Universe and Cosmos, have their fair share of murderers and rapists, con artists ands crooks, malingerers and cowards.

That takes nothing away from the vast majority of fighting men and women who put their lives on the line to defend their country. My brother, Bill, is one of those guys. And if you think he‘s not above criticism, open your yap and see how quickly I’ll close it for you.

The armed forces are loaded with heroes who deserve far more for their service than they ever get. There’s an old country and western song that lingers in my mind. The line that makes me reach for a Kleenex goes something like this:

“Now, Mother has a Purple Heart in memory of her son.”

But that doesn’t mean “the troops” can’t be criticized – as the current crop of American politicians and media moguls seem to think. They’re just as human as anybody else and if they screw up, we should not be afraid to say so.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for