The United States of America currently has the finest, most powerful and effective military in the history of the world. It has not always been that way. There have been more than a few times in our history when the military was reduced in size to near insignificance (following the Revolutionary War and post Civil War periods for example). There where times when it was manned by soldiers who were, in all honesty, simply unable to secure jobs doing anything else (many of the soldiers in the cavalry units during the “Indian Wars” fit this description). Following the Korean War the bulk of the military was made up of forced conscription's (draftees) who would mostly rather be anywhere else but in the military. Since the Vietnam experience and the end of the draft, our military has evolved into a highly professional all-volunteer force.
Maintaining a professional military brings with it an important obligation. The military has a duty to protect and defend our citizens against potential threats and enemies around the world. By the same token, our civilian population has an obligation to serve and protect the military. I am speaking of the obligation to provide food, shelter, support, and all the “normal” things they need to operate and to live that their military duties prevent them from providing for themselves. Add to that the important obligation to help look after the families of service members who are deployed overseas (often in combat zones).
Since the creation of an all volunteer armed forces only about 1 to 2 percent of the general population becomes directly involved with the military (unlike when the draft had that number much closer to 35%). This has resulted in a general distancing of the military’s needs on the home front from public awareness. It is the old “Out of Sight, Out of Mind” scenario. That is a real shame because it just simply is not enough to be proud of our armed forces. It is important that we actively support them. Simply put, since they take care of us out there where the shooting is, we should take care of them here at home.
There are a lot of ways to fulfill this obligation. One way is one which I have mentioned numerous times. Just stop and say a simple “Thank You” to them and to their families. This gesture is easy and it is appreciated far more than you realize. You can always donate to one of the many organizations providing support. That donation can take many forms. One excellent organization, “Soldiers Angels” will set you up to write letters to deployed military people who have no one here at home to write them. If you prefer you can send small care packages to the troops or help with projects. You can find out more about them at http://www.soldiersangels.org. Another excellent organization is Wounded Warriors (among others, Bill O’Reilly supports this organization). You can find out about them at http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org.
There is something else. There is another obligation we should discuss. The plain truth is that as Americans we all own Afghanistan and Iraq, whether we've been there or not, whether we know anyone who has been there or not, and whether we like it or not. It's up to the population as a whole to demand accountability from our political leaders, and to ensure that they are using the military responsibly. If our political leaders ordered the military to invade the Arctic Circle, the military would do it, and good men and women could die in the process. They can't ask the politicians why. That's the job of the citizenry -that's our job. You know as well as I do that, be it in the next decade or beyond, the drums of war will sound once again. Only an engaged, educated, and vocal society can ensure that those going to war in our country's name will do so for the right reasons and will have the training, equipment and support to get the job done.
Since the founding of this country over 3 and a half million men and women serving the the uniform of the United States have been killed, wounded or are missing so that we can enjoy our daily lives in peace, free to pursue whatever interests we may have.
O.K., Now I have made my little Memorial Day Speech. You all go out now and enjoy the holiday - Oh, and one more thing - Please, at 3:00 pm local time stop for a brief moment to remember our fallen heroes (I put a You Tube clip of Taps below for those of you who'd like to listen to it during that moment).
Live Long and Prosper....(in peace, thanks to the good people of our Armed Forces)