For a scant 252 years, a handful of brave, dedicated men and women in this Country have taken time off from their families, their jobs, and their civilian society to engage in forging and continuing the freedoms we all take for granted on a daily basis.
They are the sole reason we call ourselves the United States of America. They are the reason we are not under a Colonial rule, or a member of a Commonwealth. They are the reason we are the world’s preeminent free Republic with a democratic system of laws and an open society. They are the reason we have the world’s greatest economy and have the power to project strength and peace through an unsurpassed military. They are the reason we have it all.
And, yet, we as a society and a government have chosen to relegate these men and women to a third-class existence in our modern society. We enlist their services to keep our status quo. We use them up. Then, we kick them to the curb like dying dogs because they come back home from our wars with problems we don’t really want to confront, or deal with.
Oh, a few days a year, we roll out some American flags and give them a little lip service about how we love and honor them. But, in reality, what do we do for them on a daily basis?
If you watch sports on TV or read about sports in the newspapers, your real heroes in this Country seem to be athletes who occasionally hit a homerun, sink some baskets, score some touchdowns, beat their wives/girlfriends, use illegal drugs, accidently shoot their friends, etc.; all while earning millions of dollars purely for your entertainment. Are these folks really your heroes?
I’m reflecting on this birthday thing coming up. You know, the 4th of July thing. Oh, yes, it’s our Nation’s official birthday. That’s why it’s a National holiday. I realize it was very inconvenient this year; falling on a Tuesday. But, look at the bright side. The “weekend sales” can be extended a day or two longer. You may be able to squeeze in an extra barbeque, or two.
If you can get past the commercial aspect of this holiday, perhaps you can give some reflection on just how this day in 1776 came to pass and has been celebrated for 241 years. This holiday was brought to you by folks we call the American Military. This relatively small segment of our population has been dedicated in the fight to keep our Nation free ever since. The least we can do for them is honor them for their service by taking care of them when they return home from the battlefield.
A little insight: You don’t serve in the military and come back to civilian life the same person you were when you entered the service. You are a vastly more mature individual with a global outlook on life. You are able to handle situations that would lead others to cower. You tend to run toward a dangerous situation rather than away from it. And, if your service led you to the battlefield, you are coming back home with a rather unique set of problems to deal with. Whatever the situation of your service, your government made some implicit and explicit promises to you when you entered. They promised that when you had completed your service you, and your family, would be taken care of - for life. I truly believe they meant it; up until the close of World War I. After 1917, our government’s treatment of our Nation’s Veterans has gone steadily downhill. Post 1975, it has been in a virtual death spiral.
As we wish our Nation a happy 241 years of existence, please give thought to what we can do to preserve this great experiment in democracy. It only works when we are all involved. It only works when we all look after one another. And, to answer the title’s question, your heroes walk among you every day. They are the men and women Veterans of our Nation’s Armed Forces - your ultimate first responders. It’s up to all of us, now, to take care of them. They earned it!