How are the people who didn’t serve supposed to feel on days like Memorial Day?
Here are what seem to be gazillions of men and women who’ve stepped up and served in the United States military. Independence Day. Veterans Day. Armed Forces Day. And here’s Memorial Day. And these people walk around with pieces of old uniforms on, wearing them proudly. Some even have their entire uniforms still.
It’s obvious: they’re proud of having served, and the rest of America is mostly proud of them, too.
But what about all the ones who for whatever reason never served? What are they supposed to do? How are they supposed to feel, surrounded by all the hoo-ha, medals, ribbons, patches, old uniforms, prostheses, shared experiences and shared memories? These creaky, cranky, opinionated, over- or underweight oldsters act and talk like they’d gear up and go serve again. That’s because most of them would. No matter where they’ve been called to serve or what their experiences have been, they love America and are mightily distraught at what’s been being done within and to our nation.
As an American veteran, I can only offer my own thoughts to each of you who might feel slighted considering all the glory and appreciation veterans of American military service receive.
- As of the last census, a little over 2 percent of Americans are serving at any given time in our military. For all time, that number is up around 5-6 percent. Obviously, that means there are many more who don’t than those who do. That’s why U.S. vets are a pretty tight group and even through interservice poking are intensely proud of each other. We don’t stick together to slight you. We stick together because we know the price we’ve all paid to wear those uniforms – and the price paid by all our fallen compatriots.
- Many of you tried to enlist and for one reason or another were turned down. I salute every one of you who tried to join up. I’m proud of your intent and your effort. Being turned away from something that you’d had the courage to attempt is worth a lot to this veteran. Thank you.
- Many others were part of the supply side who helped keep things spinning and revving here at home so we could serve. You helped build, manufacture, pack and ship everything we needed. Many of you spent and still spend long hours transporting by land, sea and air the stuff that keeps your fellow Americans in uniform able to serve, fight and survive in all the world’s hot spots. Thank you.
Grab the nearest Bible and read 1 Samuel 30:24. In The Message it reads this way: “The share of the one who stays with the gear is the share of the one who fights – equal shares. Share and share alike!” The general idea is that everyone who is involved in doing their part to keep our nation free and honestly working to see it rebuilt and restored shares in glory and appreciation. Those who remain home doing what it takes to love and support those who serve, wherever they may be, are just as deserving of recognition.
Tomorrow, all across the United States and everywhere around the world U.S. troops are serving, you’ll see an outpouring of appreciation and honor for the men and women who’ve died helping keep freedom’s light lit and brightly shining. Just because you never served, please don’t stay home and feel like a second-rate citizen because of it. Come stand with us as we commemorate our brother and sister warriors who gave their lives for liberty’s cause.
You’re important, too.
© D. Dean Boone, May 2016