Today is Veteran's Day. Whether your political stripes are Republican red, Independent white, or Democrat blue, today is a day to remember those - living and dead - who put our country and Her interests above their own, and signed on to serve in the U.S. Military.
The jobs of our Soldiers, Airmen/Airwomen, Navymen/Navywomen and Marines are not like our own. They cannot call out sick because the weather is nice and they wish to take a personal day. If, after signing on, they decide they do not like the job, they cannot simply quit - they must honor the multi-year commitment they have made to serve. When they are told that they are being transferred or deployed, they cannot say "no". They go where their leaders send them, be it across the country and away from family and friends; or across the world and into imminent danger. How many of us show such loyalty to our employers?
Whether an enlisted member or an officer, employment in the U.S. Military is more than just a job, more than just a career: it is a way of life. When they leave the "office" for the day - whether the office really is an office, or whether it is a ship or a training field or a battle site - the members of our U.S. Military do not stop representing, even if they are out of uniform; and even when they have long since retired from active duty. How many of us show such pride for our profession?
Our country's laws protect our civil rights, preventing our employers from forcing us to complete tasks that we find morally objectionable. The members of our U.S. Military give up many of these protections when they join the service. For the most part, they do not get to choose their job assignment; it is chosen for them based upon their abilities; and they do their job to the best of their abilities, even if they would prefer to be doing something else. How many of us are so accommodating of our employers?
If we, as civilians, disagree with a decision our company leaders make, we can openly argue. If a Military Journalist finds the U.S. position on foreign affairs objectionable s/he had better keep that opinion out of the articles, Editorials, and opinion pieces they write; and keep cheering for the decisions of their Commander in Chief, regardless of their true feelings. The rest of our U.S. Military must also tow the "company line", and keep dissenting opinions out of their blogs and away from the ears of their commanding officers. How many of us are so supportive of our Chief Executives? And how many of us could learn to keep our mouths shut so well?
Being a member of our U.S. Military involves sacrifice that civilians will never understand; but it also provides rewards that civilians will never experience. Being a member of the U.S. Military means you are part of a brother-and-sisterhood that goes beyond self-interest, beyond cultural background, beyond the color of your skin. It is to know that whoever you are, and wherever you are, there are those who are willing to put their life on the line to protect the importance of your mission. How many of us can say that about our co-workers?
Whatever your political stripes; whatever your beliefs on war and military spending; please take the time to say "Thank You" to a Veteran for the sacrifices they make to secure, protect, and preserve our American way of life. In the words of one Veteran - who I am certain speaks for more than self - a Veteran of the U.S. Military has "defended those who hate me, fought those who where afraid of me, aided those who didn't know me, and took shots for those who were with me". How many of us can claim to be so selfless?
Wishing you all a Happy Veterans' Day, and sending a great big THANK YOU to all of our country's Veterans!