Wednesday, November 11, 2009

For All Who Serve

Todays is Veteran's Day. And no matter what you believe about war, the protection of the United States of America, or the powers-that-be who make policy decisions with international impacts, today we honor the men and women who have sacrificed their lives so their fellow citizens can live a free and independent existence.

They should be thanked more often.

My brother-in-law is a Marine who, today, is somewhere in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan at Camp Leatherneck. He is risking his life doing a job he absolutely loves - and one which completely suits him - in place of civilians around the world who aren't compelled to do the same. I am so very, very proud of him.

They should be thanked more often.

Google's home page art today, of course, honors those men and women who chose military life and all that it encompasses. Veteran's Day comes this year in the midst of the 40th Anniversary of Sesame Street, a groundbreaking television show that made significant educational and developmental contributions to the formative years of American children, the author being among those beneficiaries. No doubt, over the decades, that transformative experience has been shared and translated for countries the world over to enjoy. Interestingly enough, there are actually parallels that can be drawn between Sesame Street and the military.

The molding of young minds and training them to perform tasks they once could only imagine is a parallel. Entrusting young people with the responsibility of not only caring for themselves, but teaching them about personal integrity and caring for others is a parallel. Constant technological change and updating of concepts, understanding the determination of establishing consequences and how they constantly impact decision-making, all the way to recognizing authority and respecting leadership are all parallels. There are so many more.

They should be thanked more often.

My father was in the Navy. My neighbors (both husband and wife) were in the Navy. Two of my fraternity brothers (Once A Pike, Always A Pike) served in the Air Force; another is a Marine. Everyone has some kind of connection to someone who served this country - it's like a military version of Six Degrees of Separation to be sure. I never had the first inkling of desire to join any branch of service, just like millions of other Americans. And that's probably why I think Veteran's Day is so much more special than most people understand. People have given up what most of us call normal for strangers like me. Men and women have lost limbs in the pursuit and protection of my freedoms. Soldiers and Marines and grunts and plebes and drill sergeants and Seals have elected to put themselves in harm's way to afford me with the right to bear arms and to vote and to say what I want, when I want to say it.

The Marine Corps. The Navy. The Army. The Air Force. The Coast Guard. The Reserves. The National Guard. Today is Veteran's Day.

They should be thanked more often.