My Military Soapbox

Posted on | March 24, 2011 | 16 Comments

On Tuesday, I trekked upstairs to my neighbor’s apartment to hang out and have a few glasses of wine.  While we were chatting, the subject veered toward her time at the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Savannah.  She told me about the floats and the music and the on-lookers.  And she told me about a group of Vietnam Veterans who were marching in the parade.  She said the crowd erupted in applause and screamed “THANK YOU” to the soldiers.  She said it filled her heart and she felt so connected and so grateful to those men.

And she wondered why it was that she didn’t feel the same connection to the Iraqi war veterans.

I wonder if maybe, just maybe, the lack of respect for our current armed forces stems from the media.  Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean that the media doesn’t respect and honor our troops.  But if you think about the most memorable military news stories from the past ten years, you’re probably going to think about torture, rape, and anger.  If you’re like me, your image of the military has been tainted by thoughts that men and women become soldiers because they have no where else to turn.  And those thoughts are reinforced by media coverage of the tortures in Abu Ghraib and the horrible mess of Guantanamo Bay and the recent report of the systematic and repeated rape of women by their superiors and their peers.

Certainly the media should cover those things. Certainly we should be alerted to problems if and when they arise.  But what happened to the rest of the stories?  What happened to the men and women who are there because they believe in this Country and what it stands for?  What happened to extensive news coverage of the men and women who have been and still are dying on foreign soil, EVERY DAY.

I know I’m guilty of it.  I know that when I think about our military, I often think of men trying to straighten their lives out or women who just like guns.  I don’t think about the 18 year old boy who was raised his whole life by parents who told him over and over that the greatest sacrifice you could ever make is to die for your country.

Where is his story?

I don’t think about the girl who wanted to walk in her father’s footsteps and now serves her country in the depths of another country where she treds footsteps on soil that is even different from the ground she walked as a girl.

Where is her story?

And I know there are people out there who are making a difference.  I know there are people in my very own circle of friends who are putting their story out there every day and reminding people that the men and women who are fighting over there are our neighbors.  (I’m looking at you, Sally, Alena, and Diana!)

These people who serve our country? They are not all hoodlums and perverts.  They are not all idiots and masochists. 

They are the kid you babysat for when you were fourteen.

They are the guy you just passed on the freeway.

They are the girl in front of you at Starbucks.

The men and women who serve this country deserve our respect even before we open the book on who they are.  They deserve our respect simply because of the uniform they wear.  They deserve our respect because they go out every day and fight for our right to sit here on our butts and criticize them.  They deserve our admiration, our love, and our support.  And if it so happens that someof them are not worthy of that support? Well then, those men and women are stripped of their uniform.  They are removed from the ranks.  They are sent home in disgrace.

But we don’t, or we shouldn’t, assume all school kids have guns just because of Columbine.  We don’t, or we shouldn’t, hate and fear all mothers because of Susan Smith.  We don’t, or we shouldn’t, believe all business men are crooks, just because of Bernie Madoff. 

And we shouldn’t believe that the men and women serving our country are criminals just because the media told us about a few.

Take a minute today and think about the last time you really and truly sent up a prayer for the people over there fighting for you.  Think about the last time you saw a man or woman in uniform.  Think about how you treated them. Think about what you did for them.  Think about what you could have done to show your appreciation.

Now?  Think about what they’ve done for you.

And be as ashamed as I am, that you didn’t throw your arms around their legs and kiss the very boots they stand in. 

There are bad eggs.  But people? These kids are fighting for you.  They are kids. They are fighting.

And they do it for you.

So put aside one thing on your to do list and instead, do something for a soldier today? Even if it’s just saying thank you. Because they matter.  And it’s our job to remind them that they do.


16 Responses to “My Military Soapbox”

  1. Mrs.TrophyWife
    March 24th, 2011 @ 4:34 pm

    I’m in tears. Thank you for this. I can’t tell you the number of times someone has wanted to get in a political debate with me about how my husband serving in the military is wrong because of things they have read and heard. They don’t know our story. They don’t know that my husband’s job saves lives every day. He defuses bombs, for God’s sake, so that Iraqi children and civilians can walk to school or the market safely. He riskes his life every day while he’s deployed so that they can vote. So women can have a voice. So that the millions of IEDs strewn about by their own countrymen won’t hurt them.

    Thank you.

  2. Mom on a Line
    March 24th, 2011 @ 4:36 pm

    Thank you for this post. Having grown up in a military town, having family members and friends who have been to Afganistan and Iraq, I often think of the soldiers, sailors, air men and women, and marines, but so much more can be done. These men and women and their families deserve our support, our love, and our thanks. Thank you for reminding us.

  3. Law Momma
    March 24th, 2011 @ 4:45 pm

    There are a lot of soldiers who eat lunch at Moe’s. I’m thinking I’m gonna head that way and see if I can’t buy a soldier lunch.

    It’s hug a soldier day! 🙂

  4. Elizabeth
    March 24th, 2011 @ 4:59 pm

    Hooray! A wonderful post. I think about the military every day. My husband has only been out of the USMC one year in February and is still in the reserves. Yes, I heard those terribly sad stories, but like you point out, that’s just the few stories like that, it doesn’t shed light on everyone else. It’s a complete sacrifice these people give to their countries and for that I am so very grateful. My husband and I attempt to go out of our way now for various military affiliated organizations. This Thanksgiving we hope to adopt a Marine who has no where else to go to share the time with our family with a home cooked meal. There are a lot of things we can do to show our appreciation, to show we care, and they only take a minute. Thank you again for your post!!

  5. Crystal
    March 24th, 2011 @ 5:32 pm

    Absolutely outstanding. Moved me to tears. Thank you for this.

  6. Elaine Cox
    March 24th, 2011 @ 5:36 pm

    Thanks for such a great BLOG! It did my heart good to read this. I too am so thankful for all the military people who serve. You see this is something very close to my heart. You may not know this my brother gave the ultimate price, he died for us in Vietnam, May 24, 1968. I was only 12 yrs old at the time but remember every detail of what happened from the day that the Military came to our house, rang the doorbell and stood in our living room to tell my dad that his son had been killed. In turn my poor but brave dad had to leave and go to my mothers place of employment to tell her the news. This is a time that will forever be imbedded in my mind. I am so grateful to the military men and women who serve this great country. My dad was a WW II Veteran, my brother David also served in Vietnam, my nephew is serving in the NAVY, a niece and nephew are serving in the ARMY and last but not least my grandson, Brandon C Cox just graduated from USMC and is stationed at Twenty Nine Palms, California…. Seems we only remember the military when it suits us BUT for me and my family, I remember them everyday!

  7. Alena Chandler
    March 24th, 2011 @ 5:41 pm

    My eyes instantly filled with tears. When I joined the Air Force I did it because my parents served. I did it because I knew it was the right thing to do…for me.

    My husband? Much the same way. His Dad served, him and his brother both serve now. They are in the same unit…doing things I can’t talk about…but that I know make a difference. That I know are doing things for this country to keep it safe.

    I think we have come so far since soldiers were getting spit at when coming home from Vietnam. But I think now we’ve moved into silent judgement. There are bad people who give soldiers a bad name. But there are bad people in the civilian sector. But can you assume every civilian is a rapist, thief, abuser, alcoholic? No.

    Thank you for writing this. I am proud beyond words of the job my husband does. I wish more people could be proud of what the men and women that serve are doing too!

  8. Sarah Jane
    March 24th, 2011 @ 6:12 pm

    Thank you for this. It brought tears to my eyes and made my day a little brighter. Ok, a lot brighter. My husband is currently serving as a firefighter in the Air Force and many days I feel that this country has lost all respect and caring for men like him. It’s so good to know that this is not the case. Thank you again.

  9. Toni
    March 24th, 2011 @ 6:27 pm

    Great post. I’m amazed that everyone cannot appreciate what soldiers do for our country. I can’t imagine what the soldiers and their families go through.

  10. Suz B
    March 24th, 2011 @ 7:01 pm

    Beautiful post. Love that you did a shout out to some of my favorites. Before reading their blogs, I admit that I often overlooked military (even though I live in a big military state). Now I try to smile & thank men & women when I see them in uniform. I know I really should probably do even more.

  11. MrsMcDancer
    March 24th, 2011 @ 7:06 pm

    This post was so eloquent and straightforward. You articulated what I sometimes have a difficult time getting across. Thank you for this post!

  12. Katie
    March 24th, 2011 @ 7:55 pm

    Thank you for this. My brother in law (who lives with us) is getting deployed to Afghanistan for 15 months, in just two weeks. It is terrifying watching him prepare for what he might face over there. But we are so so so proud of him & the sacrifice he is making. Thank you again for such a wonderful post!

  13. Jess@Straight Talk
    March 24th, 2011 @ 7:57 pm

    You. Are. AWESOME. As the sister of a United States Marine who has spent time in Iraq, I completely appreciate this. And know he would too.

    Thanks for the reminder.

  14. Diana @Hormonal Imbalances
    March 25th, 2011 @ 12:23 am

    Wow. Thank you so much. This was such a moving post to read. Today was such a crappy day after a crappy week – I just needed to be reminded of this. It isn’t about me. It’s about the people serving our country.

  15. Elizabeth
    March 25th, 2011 @ 11:48 am

    Excellent post! My dad has been in the military for 34 years (gasp) and has been in 2 wars, had 9 years of active duty, transferred stations 11 times, and suffers from PTSD. BUT, even with all that, you couldn’t drag him out of the military if you tried. He loves his country and loves serving them even more! When he sacrifices, it’s not for just our country, it’s for the entire world. Our soldiers have had to turn in to officers of world peace, and like you said, there are some bad eggs, BUT there are also men like my father whose heart yearns for nothing more than freedom and peace in our country. And I am willing to bet he’ll do it until the day he dies.
    Thank you for this post and for your willingness to share your heart.

  16. Shelley
    March 28th, 2011 @ 2:18 pm

    This is the story I constantly think of. This lady was a member of a mom’s forum I was a member of several years ago. Her husband was raised in the military mentality. When he was on his 2 week R&R, they tried to get pregnant. A few days after returning overseas, he was killed by an IED. A few days after that, the lady found out she was pregnant with their second child. A child who will never get to meet his daddy.

    This lady is the strongest woman in the world to me. She manages to take care of business, raise funds, and keep her husband’s mission and mindset alive with a smile on her face.

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