With only a few days to go until Veteran’s Day, liberal website Salon.com, which is notorious for posting salacious material to gain views, decided it would be appropriate to post an article questioning America’s reverence for the troops. The piece immediately garnered a large response and spread quickly which played into exactly what Salon was hoping for. The tagline of the article read, “It’s been 70 years since we fought a war about freedom. Forced troop worship and compulsory patriotism must end.” Those who could resist the impulse to stop reading after the title were met with an opening sentence of, “Put a man in uniform, preferably a white man, give him a gun, and Americans will worship him. It is a particularly childish trait, of a childlike culture, that insists on anointing all active military members and police officers as “heroes”. The article continues to digress from there to the point where it becomes almost unreadable. The “argument” basically revolves around the idea that because bad things have happened in the military (rising number of sexual assaults reported in the military last year) and because America has engaged in unpopular wars, it’s childish to indiscriminately support the troops. The rest of the article does not deserve a response. In fact, the argument can be made the article as a whole doesn’t deserve a response either, but SGR feels it’s important, especially on Veteran’s Day, to take a moment to reflect on why we celebrate this holiday and why the admiration it triggers should be carried on through the other 364 days of the year.
First of all, the tagline of the Salon article is patently false. The claim that America hasn’t fought a war about freedom since WWII just doesn’t hold any water. In fact, almost every single military conflict America has entered into since WWII was directly related to liberating an oppressed minority or spreading Democracy and yes, that includes Vietnam, Iraq (both times), Afghanistan, and Korea. Like it or not, America has become the predominant superpower in the world and that title comes with the responsibility of getting involved when defenseless countries are in harms way. Of course there are conflicts that the American public don’t agree with and this country is not impervious to mistakes. Moreover, holding the soldiers responsible for those mistakes is not only wrong, it misses the entire point of Veteran’s Day.
United States soldiers don’t sign up to only serve in combat when the mission agrees with their personal politics. They sign up to defend our country from any and all threats, with the understanding that they are sworn to obey any orders given to them by the President, their Commander-in-Chief. This fact automatically puts all troops in the same fraternity of heroes. The brave men who died on the beaches of Normandy swore the same oath as those who lost their lives in the streets of Fallujah and that initial dedication to protect this great country is the reason we pledge our support. Complaints about the merits of the conflicts these soldiers risk everything to engage in should be discussed here at home but should never be used to undermine the bravery displayed by every single service member. Period.
The second sentence of the Salon article, despite containing the racist overtone of implying that white soldiers are more important than black soldiers, also states that it’s childish to support the troops because, as explained later in the piece, soldier’s have been responsible for bad things over the course of human history. The author cited the rise in sexual assaults that were reported among service members last year. This is an extremely sloppy argument that expects readers to believe that since bad things happen in the military among a small percentage of service members, the entire military should be condemned and held to a lower standard by the public. According to Salon, every soldier should be looked at skeptically by the public because of a few bad apples. This belief isn’t worth the time to dissect further other than to point out the lack of sophistication this argument was created with.
No harm comes from respecting the men and women who put their lives on hold to defend our country. There is no negative consequence that comes from taking a moment to show appreciation for the soldiers that have died, been injured, or are still missing in action. The politicians are the one’s who send these men and women into battle and it is the politicians who answer to the American people as to whether or not the loss of life is just or not. The soldiers simply obey orders and boldly go where they are told. That is an action that deserves our respect and there is no rational person who believes soldiers accused of rape or war crimes should be held in the same regard as a soldier who serves with honor. The reality is that the vast majority of soldiers serve with dignity and respect and that is something to be thankful for. Tomorrow will mark my first Veteran’s Day without my favorite veteran, my Grandfather who passed away in March. I hope I am not alone when I say that this country is thankful for his service and the service of all the other brave men and women who have answered the call with no other motive than loving this great country.
– Andrew Mark Miller