The time of year is upon us again when the patriotic emails begin to circulate, people hit the grocery stores to get ready for the traditional BBQ, and we as Americans try to do whatever we can to show support for our brothers-in-arms, those who have served, are serving, or who aren’t with us anymore.
The media and popular opinion do a great job of forming their own opinions, but those of us who have served over there, spent a significant amount of time with the people of the lands we are in (officially, unofficially, and completely covert) have a very different opinion. It’s very easy for the media to portray the trigger-happy, massacre-inducing and menacing vigilante-soldier, but most people in our great country don’t understand the reality…..soldiers are people too.
I don’t know the soldier in the above picture, I only know that he’s a Special Operations soldier (I think Special Forces, but not 100% sure) in Afghanistan, and portraying one of the aspects of a deployed combat soldiers daily life which the media doesn’t see as fit to report to the American people. As a medic, I’ve participated in and seen situations just as the one pictured above more times than I can count, from Afghanistan to Iraq and Africa.
Not long after Kanye West was screaming “George Bush hates black people,” I, several doctors and other medics were in Africa on orders from George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld treating and feeding thousands of Africans who had never seen a medical professional before in their lives. That’s a very strange way to show hatred, isn’t it?
I didn’t want to get on too much of a soapbox here, but do want to help people to realize that soldiers are people too, and for all of the combat, death and destruction you hear about in the news, there are an uncountable number of instances like the one above being played out every day in Afghanistan and Iraq. Soldiers are people too, and more so than the general public, we know the horrors that war brings.
People think that we as soldiers are all warmongers, but look at it this way: every night, after I tuck my son and daughter in to sleep, I say a prayer for my brothers in harms way, my brothers who never made it home, my brothers-in-arms still in harms way, and all of their families. I, more than anyone else wish that I didn’t have to lose a part of my soul every night fearing for their safety, but as a realist I understand that it is necessary. As long as this country is great, we will have enemies, and as long as we have enemies, there will be amazing patriots willing to lay down their lives to fight them and defend her.
So enjoy the BBQ on Sunday (actual Veterans Day, the 11th day of the 11th month every year) or Monday (the Federal Holiday this year)….I’m not one of the people who wants anyone to feel guilty about enjoying themselves that day. But as you play a round of golf or bite into a tasty mouthful of ribs, remember and say a prayer for those great patriots and their families. Most importantly, it doesn’t have to be Veteran’s Day for you to personally thank one. Every minute of every day that you live in Freedom is thanks to a Veteran, so thank them accordingly.
Now that I’m a civilian again, I’d like to say thank you from my family to any active-duty military or veterans who may be reading this: thank you for all that you do, thank you for keeping my family safe, thank you for putting our safety before your own. I truly believe that certain souls are put into certain bodies for a reason, and that the warrior’s soul is that of a warrior for time eternal. I’ll proudly stand with you, my brothers on another battlefield in another life, and will happily share a drink with you when it’s out turn in Valhalla. De Oppresso Liber.