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Very rarely do I sit down and attempt to write something with substance. I’ve been running The Man Feed for about 3 years now and I’ve probably written ten to fifteen articles with substance. Mostly covering comedy or news, there’s not a lot of time for substance. However, today I was driving home from the gym when I stumbled across an Instagram post written by none other than NorthAmericanRescue.
The post included a picture of a special operations soldier. The man stood holding an American flag, hunched over as if he was forcing it into solid slate rock. As he stood, heat blazing, overgrown beard, no shirt, tactical pants, and a hip mounted sidearm, I had to ask myself, “What the fuck are we doing?” What exactly is it that we’re spending so much time and money on with troops still over there after 15 years of fighting and almost no progress.
I’ve been to Afghanistan for my share of time, two combat deployments to less than hospitable areas. So don’t get the idea that I’m some civilian questioning something I know nothing about. I’m asking the question aloud that we’ve all thought to ourselves quietly.
“With Memorial Day coming up soon, I have seen numerous questions asking why, why is the sacrifice worth it? They are not questioning the Fallen, they are questioning the need. Having delved into this question myself, perhaps the answer I came to might help others.
America is an idea. The Constitution is a dream. Our society is not perfect, the rules are up for interpretation, and it is messy. Freedom is a room full of toddlers with paint, markers, glitter, and no adults to supervise.
But that is not answering the question.
Was Iraq worth it? Is Afghanistan worth it? Is further involvement in Syria worth valiant men and women who have paid the ultimate price? The answer is the same in all cases, yes.”
The answer he said was YES. Yes, it was worth it. Yes, every minute of every day, of every year we spent over there was worth it. Why? Because every good deed, every Taliban commander we kill, every child we save from a tyrannical police commander is a new start. It’s a new start for children who can’t stand for themselves.
As the post states, I can’t speak for anyone but myself when I say that every fucking minute I spent over there was worth it if only one child is left better off. I don’t know the political motivations behind our government. Yet, with absolute certainty, I know that I joined the American Military for an ideal, an ideal of FREEDOM, and an idea that everyone should be treated as fairly as possibly.
In the last three years, we’ve watched in complete disbelief as our nation began publicly tearing itself apart from the inside. Blacks vs. whites, women vs. men, gays vs. straights. I’ve always held a strong belief that once you put on the uniform, none of those issues matters anymore. Your personal opinion is just that, personal, and that’s exactly where you put those feelings. You shove them so deep down that you don’t even remember them because they don’t matter anymore. The only thing that matters is that you’re all on the same team and you’re willing to die so your brother might live.
Every one of the Fallen, who shed their life’s blood in battles around the world, served that idea. The dream of a perfect world where all men are equal and everyone lives in peace and comfort with justice for all.
Unfortunately, we all know this isn’t possible in today’s world. We, as a nation, are too focused on tearing each other down than building each other up. A man named Sebastian Junger. Sebastian Junger is a journalist who’s written several award-winning books such as War and Fire. I suggest you check them out when you get a chance.
Sebastian Junger has seen war up close, and he knows the impact that battlefield trauma has on soldiers. But he suggests there’s another major cause of pain for veterans when they come home: the experience of leaving the tribal closeness of the military and returning to an alienating and bitterly divided modern society. “Sometimes, we ask ourselves if we can save the vets,” Junger says. “I think the real question is if we can save ourselves.”
As you enjoy your 4-day weekend. Try to remember not the service or the oath these Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines have taken. Rather, try to understand the idea that they believed in enough to give their lives for their country and countrymen.
I cannot speak for Congress or the President, I don’t speak for any veteran or service member but myself. But the answer still remains yes.
America is an idea. We face trial and tribulation on a daily basis. Our citizens get riled up at each other and we have those with issues with authority and the justice system in our nation. With all our issues, we are still in the best nation in the world. No place is perfect.
Every one of the Fallen, who shed their life blood in battles around the world, served that idea. The dream of a perfect world where all men are equal and everyone lives in peace and comfort with justice for all.
All it takes for that dream to become a nightmare is for those who guard this nation to fail to stand.
The military serves an idea in support of that dream. We guard the Constitution for all our citizens to provide some surety that tomorrow will be the same as today. Not because of what we did specifically, but because we pledged our lives against the whole. We say proudly that we are the 1% because it is true.
When soldiers join, they put their lives in the balance. They pledge themselves freely to give all that they have for the greater good even to the sum of their lives. Thousands made that promise for eternity on battlefields, roads, and in the rugged deserts and mountains of Iraq and Afghanistan.
I like those who returned, traded years of our lives for the surety of our nation for the promise that the dream would live
Enjoy your Memorial Day but remember what it’s for. There’s no need to go around making civilians feel like shit for mistakenly thanking you when it’s all they know. Politely ask that they observe the fallen on this day. This day is not about the living. It’s about the brothers and sisters we’ve lost fighting for the belief of a better nation.