Airing Dirty Laundry

I’m probably going to make many enemies because of this post, but I just have to get something off my chest.


I went to the Cape this weekend to visit my family. Afer a lovely lazy day on Saturday, my Mom drove me from the Cape to the Braintree subway station on Sunday so I could return to Boston. I noticed something on my drive back that I’d recognized on occasion over the past few years – but not to this extent.


There seems to be an epidemic in Massachusetts (and perhaps across the country) with people hanging “signs” (and I use that word loosely) on highway overpasses with a “welcome back” message to enlisted military persons. Now, although I’m against the war, I do support the actual people who willingly enlisted into military service. It’s not their fault we’re over there and I sincerely hope for their safe return.


But whatever happened to the simple and tasteful method of showing support by tying a yellow ribbon around a tree? Why has everything in this country become more and more excessive. Cars are now SUV’s, a quick meal at McDonalds is now super-sized, houses have become McMansions and yellow ribbons have become king-sized sheets with painted words on them, tied to highway overpasses.


Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if some of them had even the slightest bit of artistry involved in their creation. But more often than not, they’re a white sheet with red (or blue) painted letters. Even worse, the creators inevitably run out of room and squeeze a word in on the right so it will fit on one line.


Perhaps somebody could take a yellow sheet and lace it through the overpass fence holes in the shape of an ribbon? I suspect that would look better.

13 Comments

  1. Comment by chrispy on August 22, 2005 1:22 pm

    grandstand sloganeering: “Support your troops: Bring them Home”

  2. Comment by karyn on August 22, 2005 4:03 pm

    Well… I know what you mean about the sloppy signage, and being you, I can imagine how that rankles you. But I must say, I always get goosebumps when I see those signs, thinking that some poor bastard who’s been sucking sand in a desert for a couple years is getting to COME HOME. I think those painted sheets are a huge morale boost to those guys! (And women.) And they are going to see their name up there and see the effort (dubious though you find it) their loved ones put into it, advertising their pride and love and appreciation and it is going to choke them up.

    Then again, I am a sentimental sap.

    Sorry it bugs you Snarl. I hear you on the Supersized Society. But it is what it is. *shrug* I got other things to worry about.

    How’s Dusty? xo

  3. Comment by Karl on August 22, 2005 4:10 pm

    Really? Goose bumps? HMMM – interesting. I think I must be colder than I thought. I do have sentimentality, though!

    I mean, I’d be thrilled to come home and find “A hundred yellow ribbons round the old oak tree” in my front yard. In fact, I’d rather see that than see that my parents ruined a perfectly good sheet.

  4. Comment by karyn on August 22, 2005 4:19 pm

    Yes, but that’s just for your parents and you. The sheet tells the whole world KARL PUT HIS LIFE ON THE LINE FOR YOUR PITIFUL ASSES AND WE’RE THRILLED HE’S HOME!

    Shut your ass up about the goosebumps. I have a deep sappy streak. As if you can’t tell by my posts. LOL.

    love u, k

  5. Comment by Karl on August 22, 2005 4:30 pm

    OK – the more I think about it, I suppose I wouldn’t mind a highway bridge sign. But I’d be pretty insulted if my parents just used an old sheet. If they loved me that much, couldn’t they spring a few bucks to get one of those tarp material ones printed?

  6. Comment by Will on August 22, 2005 6:31 pm

    Karl, you’re offended by the aesthetics of these impromptu bridge signs–keep in mind that the majority of them, if not all, are put up by the relatives of these men and women–and they’re virtually all straight. OF COURSE you would want brand new material, a gramatically correct message in nicely spaced and stencilled lettering, a coordinated color scheme and some nice graphics. But you’re gay, Karl. They’re not.

  7. Comment by karyn on August 22, 2005 9:01 pm

    Karl, you are such a snob. LOL. xo k

  8. Comment by matt on August 23, 2005 2:05 am

    …I kinda like those signs. …maybe I am being “corny” but I imagine some child who is missing his mom, dad, brother or sister — and the family is painting this huge home made sign and that child is filled with hope that his or loved one will return. That is what is in my head when I see those big blanket signs. …and, I guess, I kind of like that.

    I feel the same way when I see shabby or “sad” looking holiday decorations in someone’s yard. To us it make look cheap, tacky and shabby — but in that house is a child who is so proud of what he/her or his family pulled together to welcome Santa Clause.

    I think the key is to try and put yourself in someone else’s shoes. If my brother were over there I would want a banner welcoming back every single person that was able to get back here — in as big a way as I could.

    War is NEVER right. But, sadly, that can’t be the concern of the soldier — or that soldier’s family.

  9. Comment by jeff on August 23, 2005 10:09 am

    The least they could do is remove them after they have become worn and tattered from the weather.

  10. Comment by Karl on August 23, 2005 10:54 am

    OKAY – some of you made valid points. I never really considered little baby sister Suzie wanting to work on the sign herself because she misses her brother. That’s valid. I also like Jeff’s idea of removing them once they appear tattered. But still…highway overpasses? Couldn’t towns designate an area for the signs? Perhaps in front of town hall? Or better yet, in front of the local military recuiting office? Besides, once numerous signs are displayed next to each other, the competitive nature might increase the quality of the signs themselves. It’s a win-win for everybody!

  11. Comment by karyn on August 23, 2005 8:03 pm

    So start a movement. Get everyone who’s already travled to hell and back to go by the local recruiting office on their way home to see the competitive welcome home signs. That’d be interesting…

  12. Comment by David on August 24, 2005 12:17 pm

    I like the Welcome home signs. What gives me the creeps is all these roadside memorials for car accidents. Some near my house are decorated for the holidays etc.
    Don’t these people have a cemetary to go to?

  13. Comment by Gaby on September 16, 2005 11:58 am

    Very interesting blog!

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