Yesterday, at both church services, my wife Rebekah recognized all those who have served in the armed forces. Approximately 45 stood in total, around 12% of those in attendance.
She said the closeness of Veterans Day to our national elections is a commentary on the relationship between the liberty we cherish and the cost of freedom. She said she wanted to offer a public, “Thank you.”
There is a difference, of course, between Memorial Day (when we remember those who died) and Veterans Day (when we honor those who serve and have served). Either way, the cost can be high, and I join Rebekah in expressing my gratitude and my respect.
LET THEM LIVE: But today – and because I love and respect the members of our armed services so very much – is also a good day to raise difficult issues. This is what’s on my mind as I think about the men and women who put on a uniform, and who lay everything on the line to ensure the security and the stability of the United States of America:
I’m not sure that we ask hard enough questions regarding how those who hold political (and economic) power use military force.
I’ve never understood why the slogan, “support our troops” so often goes hand-in-hand with supporting the decisions of those who put them in harm’s way.
I also don’t understand why it’s often considered “anti-military” to question our presence in a situation where a traditional “We won – they lost – now it’s over” scenario is not a viable option, and where thousands of servicemen/women continue to be killed or maimed.
NATION-BUILDING: I personally don’t believe that the concept of “Nation Building” is a proper role for the young men and women who serve in the U.S. armed forces. Nations are built from within; they are built around ideas, education, inspirational political leadership, and the self-sacrificial commitment of native citizens.
I am such a strong supporter of our United States military personal that I want to see an end to the kind of foreign-policy decisions that lead to situations like the 10-years and counting war in Afghanistan.
ANALOGY: Here’s an analogy to think about. Have you ever had a friend or family member who was an out-of-control alcoholic, or maybe into substance abuse? It’s a fact that you can’t “fix” that person from the outside; there’s no such thing as going in “guns blazing” to force a solution. Such people can ask for help, but still the change must come from within to be effective.
Well, the world is full of such floundering people – and nations, a danger to themselves and others. We can strong-arm all we want, but unless we take away all their freedom and stand permanent guard, they’re just going to go right back to “using” until that change comes from within.
I SUPPORT OUR TROOPS! Like I said, I am so grateful for our military; I appreciate their sacrifice, their service, and their families. But using and abusing the lives of so many young people in places like Afghanistan is not the way that I want to show my respect.