07 July 2005

thank a vet

I typically try to make a point of personally thanking people who serve in our military when i encounter them in public - as much as possible. the other day a friend of mine from back in high school hunted me down on the internet and as we got caught up with each other's lives over the past 20 years, i learned that he's been in the Air Force pretty much the whole time and is signing up for another 10 years. i thought it was interesting his response to my email thanking him for serving to make our country a free one. Here's what he wrote back:

You thanked me...but I want to thank you. After September 11th, and after our invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, many of us in the military got mixed reactions from folks. We were even told by our base commander at one point to minimize wear of the uniform when off-base because there had been an incident of an active duty guy who stopped by Wal Mart on his way home from work. As he was walking out of the store, a lady walked up to him and spit on him and cursed him for serving in the military. I serve for folks like that, but I serve more proudly for the folks like you who appreciate our effort.

hug a vet. shake a soldier's hand. it makes a difference.

and thank God for freedom.


David O said...

Hell yeah! When you dis the military dudes, you dis yourself.

David O said...

read this;

USAF-Medic said...

Thanks Dan!
Speaking as the high school friend (now in the military) who hunted Dan down after 20 years, let me reiterate my point that we who serve do so for all who enjoy our freedom. Be it the college student learning to speak his voice by setting fire to Old Glory, or the citizen who stands patiently waiting at an airport terminal to welcome us home from a war, we serve them both loyally.

We take an oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies, both foreign and domestic. We do this because we know that not all assaults on Freedom come from without. Sadly, much of it comes from within.

Were we to choose not to defend both those that loved us as well as those that hated us, I truly believe that this country would collapse into a society in which only the majority would receive the opportunity to voice their opinion. And as history has shown us time and time again, the voice of the majority, though certainly popular by definition, has not always led us down a path toward a better nation for all.

Our forefathers, escaping a country whose government chose their ideals for them, created a nation based on personal liberty and individual Freedom. They authored written legislation to protect that Freedom hoping that generations to come would continue their work and build on their foundation.

The result is a society where government is questioned on a daily basis in the media, where some criminals may go free when strict prosecutorial procedures aren't followed to the letter, and where minority opinion is embraced as open-minded individuals work to evolve our nation into a land of tolerance and fairness.

We hold these fundamental Freedoms in such high regard that we also share a belief that they are universal, crossing all political and geographical boundaries. We fight not only to protect our country, but to protect those individuals around the globe without the necessary might to defend their own Freedom. We do it thanklessly, sometimes, but our loyalty is pledged not to the people but to that blanket of Freedom under which democracy prevails.

Somewhere between "an eye for an eye" and "turn the other cheek" exists an ideal based on an assumption of truth and innocence, backed up by firm and swift justice for those selfish enough to rob their fellow citizens of their right to life, liberty and a pursuit of happiness. The price for this ideal is bloodshed. Many have given their lives defending both sides of that coin. Every free country in the world today has gone through civil war, sometimes multiple times, and every one of them has learned the same lesson we did: war, though something to be hated, is a necessary evil in the growth of democracy.

So we now watch as democracy is born across the globe. Sadly, we know what the future holds. We will watch CNN as leaders are chosen, as politicians are assassinated, as terrorist factions form, voice their views, become the hunted, and meet their destruction. We will watch as like-minded citizens band together, take up arms, and wage internal war on their brothers and sisters. We will watch all of this, and we will pray.

We will pray for a swift end to hostilities, we will pray for tolerance among extremist groups, and we will pray for the souls of the innocents unfortunate enough to be caught in the middle.

But all of this--the battles, the betrayal, the bloodshed--is required if we truly believe that our Freedom is not simply a commodity to be horded within our borders, but a tool with which to unify and serve as foundation for the future of mankind.

In closing, I'd like to again thank all of you who show support for America's brave warriors. We fight for all, but the battles are easier knowing we're in your thoughts and prayers.

One last request: fly your flags proudly, but please replace them when they're dirty, faded or frayed. Let no man think that Freedom's blanket is represented by pink, off-white and baby blue.