Thursday, November 11, 2010

thanks, brother

The kids have off school today. It’s Veteran’s Day: November 11--the day we remember military veterans, both living and dead.

I want to come right out and say it: Veteran’s Day is problematic for me because (on the one hand) there have been many atrocities committed in the name of freedom-fighting--and I have many close friends who are pacifist.

“So, what’s the problem?” you might ask.

Well, it’s this: I have some very close friends that have made the military their career and, as far as I can tell, they have done nothing dishonorable in it. At times they have wrestled with the flaws of the system. As they’ve done so, they’ve had the courage to be part of the solution rather than just part of the deconstruction. I have the utmost respect for them. They walk a fine line.

I am also the son of a vet and a brother to two vets, one of whom made the military his career--and still serves with the Army Corps of Engineers.

Because of this, I feel caught between two places: on the one hand there is a crucified-God, Jesus-ethic that says “Turn the other cheek. Love your enemies” while on the other hand I have observed friends and family that have sought to embody that ethic even while serving in the military.

That said, on this Veteran’s Day I must admit at least one thing: were it not for people who stood up to tyrants, I would not have the privilege of putting these thoughts out in the open while still retaining my freedom without fear of losing that freedom.

So, you may disagree with this, but this Veteran’s Day I feel I am indebted to people who have truly sacrificed personal ambition, comfort and even life to provide the freedom I enjoy. I feel I must pay honor and respect to that. After all there are many things they have done so I wouldn’t have to.

I have never had to dismantle a bomb, nor sweep a mine field. My brother has.

I have never built a bridge or helped provide clean water to a 3rd world village. My brother has.

I have never had a gun pointed at me, never been shot at. And, though he has never told me so, I’m pretty sure my brother has.

My life has never been seriously threatened; this is because my brother’s has.

I have never wondered if, on my walk to the store, I might fall victim to an Improvised Explosive Device.

I have never operated on an enemy, never had to save the life of an opponent.

I have never bought another’s freedom with my very life. My brother still might.

Thanks are due. Yes, this is one side of the story. Yes, many abuse the power that comes with their career in the military, but many don’t. For those who serve nobly, with honor: you have my thanks and respect.


Eric Sauter said...

Eloquently stated Troy. I won't retype my views on the dichotomy here, rather I'll point you to Julie Clawson's facebook posting and the discussion that ensued.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh the multifaceted and machiavellian U.S. military: Friend, foe, liberator, oppressor, savior, killer.

The post is right in just one thing: The U.S. doesn't have friends, it has interests (John Foster Dulles). Mr. Dulles should've added:And as long we feel warm and cozy, the rest of the world can burn.

I remember Forrest Gump's remarks about the army:

Forrest Gump: Now for some reason I fit in the army like one of them round pegs. It's not really hard. You just make your bed real neat and remember to stand up straight and always answer every question with "Yes, drill sergeant.