Why They Serve

I freely and wholly admit that I am incapable of being objective on this subject; I am married to a 10-year Army sergeant who did a year in Afghanistan. My father was in the army, and both of my grandfathers fought in World War II in the Navy and Marines. I have unbridled respect and admiration for those who serve.

At the same time, I am the first to point out that wearing a uniform doesn’t make you a better human. Very few things annoy me as much as people who revere someone based solely on that person’s profession. Teachers, military, first responders, nurses, and so many others are the beneficiary of this…and yet, countless stories of teachers molesting their students abound. Former and current military men and women are found doing everything from beating their spouses to having sex in front of children in public and everything in between and beyond. My wife doesn’t properly fold a toothpaste tube! In other words, just because you do an admirable job doesn’t mean you’re an admirable person.

With that said, I was so offended last week…which is hard to do. No matter what my personal beliefs, it takes a lot to offend me. When I see someone burning an American flag I couldn’t care less. When someone tells a racist joke, I view it as a commentary on them, rather than an assault on me or my African American wife. People who hate America have every right to, and in some cases, sadly, make some good points. None of these things and so many others, offend me.

But last week, I was offended. President Donald Trump posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor on Wednesday to Staff Sgt. Travis Atkins, a 10th Mountain Division soldier who sacrificed his life to save his fellow troops from a suicide bomber on a dusty road in Iraq 12 years ago. Whenever I can, I stop what I am doing to watch such ceremonies so that I can remind myself what true heroes look like. After watching the ceremony and clearing up my exceptionally strong allergies which caused an odd watering eye affliction, I left the TV on to hear a Fox News anchor chat up a former soldier. During the interview, the anchor said “these people are over there, putting their lives on the line, for things they believe in and agree with to keep us safe…” and that’s a direct god-damned quote because I rewound the TV to write it down since it angered me so much.

Simple response; NO THEY AREN’T. and the reason it’s insulting is that the exact opposite of what was said is the truth.

To assert that those who serve agree with their orders is beyond naïve and asinine, and it’s absurd to insinuate such.

What makes those who serve heroes, en masse, minus their individual failings (like not knowing how to fold a toothpaste tube), is the fact that they go where they’re told, they do what they’re told, and they execute their orders with precision, regardless of their own personal beliefs. Imagine being told to do something you find wrong-headed, or even immoral, yet what you’re being told to do is completely legal, and having to execute said order. And keep in mind, we’re not talking about over-billing a client…we’re talking life and death issues.

Countless soldiers have returned from parts of the world with the opinion that what they were asked to do was the wrong policy, the wrong tactic, and/or the wrong way forward. But they did it. And that is what makes them admirable. To assert, as Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto did, that the men and women of our armed forces are doing things that they agree with is beyond insulting and ignorant, it’s simply stupid.

Very few cops enjoy taking a person to jail just because the person has a warrant, which often times is nothing more than a clerical error, but they do it, because it’s the job.

Very few nurses enjoy taking care of a DUI driver who killed a family, but they do it.

They don’t do these things because they agree with the position they have been put in, they do them because that’s the damned job and they took an oath to execute said job, and that’s what makes them admirable. To stupidly suggest that those who serve all agree with you and your idiotic view of the world is to demean those who serve.

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