For one, I was no longer getting a weekly haircut, nor was any razor getting acquainted with my face on a daily basis. I no longer used shower shoes, waited in line to eat out of a can, or pitched a tent to sleep in a bag. “The slide into civilian slime,” as Marine Corps GySgt. Cooley, a decorated Vietnam veteran, would lament was well underway. Perhaps that is why Gunny assigned me to the Civilian Readjustment class – twice.
In one of my first collegiate classes, everyone took a turn at the professor’s lectern and were instructed to introduce themselves with a brief biography and what brought us to university. As the class was dismissed, the professor asked to speak with me. In no uncertain terms he wanted me to know that during the Vietnam years protests on campus occurred and that veterans were not well received by some.
Growing up, I witnessed the domestic upheaval that was endured by these veterans, many of whom were the senior NCOs and field grade officers I served with. There was even a smattering of Korean War vets among them. Sensing the opportunity to support and defend these men who mentored me, I did so without trepidation and with satisfaction.
“Thank you for your service.” Really? If you truly mean what you say, then how about making your gratitude count the next time you vote.
This was before the days when the ubiquitous expression, “Thank you for your service” became the new catchphrase echoing throughout our lexicon especially around Veterans Day. For some, specifically those Korean and Vietnam veterans, the “thanks” and “welcome home” were much too long in coming. Whether or not these words bestowed upon them are sincere, the fact is plenty of them never got a chance to hear such benign salutations.
Or is it just something we say like “Happy Thanksgiving” and “Merry Christmas” to fill an uncomfortable void that often comes across as disingenuous?
This seemingly quasi-support perhaps stems from the fact that most have never served even though America had been at war for nearly two decades. More than two million served in Iraq and Afghanistan following 9/11. That seems like a lot, but categorically they represent less than one percent of the U.S. population.
Americans' experience of war today happens as they are surrounded by the comforts of home. That battle against evil and freedom hating rogues is fought compliments of a computer video screen and mouse where the terror, blood, and stench of death is nonexistent.
“Thank you for your service.”
If you truly mean what you say, then how about making your gratitude count the next time you vote. For once, stop casting your ballot for Marxist Democrats who take their liberties for granted, while despising this country that I served – and you chose not to – a nation that seemingly does not exist today.
How about that? Or are you offended?
“The best way you can thank any of us for our service is to make America a nation worth dying for, again.”
Freedom’s steep and never-ending price tag is disproportionally paid time-and-again by veterans, and it always has been that way even after 1973 when Congress put the draft to rest. If attempting to assuage your draft deferment guilt with your yearly perfunctory “thank you for your service” makes you feel better – have at it.
After all, it’s a free country, right?
There is one hero of the Iraqi War, who had the humility and grace to respond in kind that was nothing short of perfection. You won’t find this gentleman on Facebook or any other narcissistic social media outlet extolling his every move as some validation of purpose. He does not wear a hat, shirt, or jacket to distinguish who he is because his mere presence and the way he carries himself more than suffices.
While on patrol in Iraq, his face and hands were mutilated by an improvised explosive device. Maimed for life, he looked the person dead in the eye saying, “The best way you can thank any of us for our service is to make America a nation worth dying for, again.”
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