· Please thank him for us.
· You must be so proud of your husband.
· I could never be in the service.
· There’s no way I would let my child go into the military.
Of all of them, the latter two really get me fired up! My usually responses include things along the line of “not that brave are you” or “so your child is to good to fight for our freedom”. It’s always bothersome. And I always hear a long list of excuses.
· I’m not that physically fit.
· I’m not good at taking orders.
· I don’t want to go to war.
· I couldn’t fire a gun.
Rather lame excuses if you ask me!
Then I found a quote that really has been making me think lately. It’s by Eleanor Roosevelt and she said, “It is not fair to ask of others what you are not willing to do yourself.” It made me wonder, why is it that so many will speak about our rights, like freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to vote, etc, but so few are willing to fight for it as a member of the Armed Forces.
My father-in-law, a retired US Air Force Master Sergeant, thinks that military service should be mandatory. He felt that 2-4 years for a young person coming out of high school would do them some good before going off to work or college. We had a long conversation about it and my point was that I didn’t think I could do anything the military would need from me. He responded that there was always something for everyone to do in the military. He gave me a few examples pertaining to myself. He said to me that I can cook, so I could work in the mess hall and that I had office skills and that I could work in any office with those skills. We also discussed the physical part of being in the military. To him, this was not a concern. He felt that if you were not physically fit going into the military, you sure would be when you got out.
For me, the jury is still out on mandatory service. I think with volunteer service, you get people that want to serve, as opposed to people that have to serve. What I would like to see is better compensation for military service. There are too many service members that have to accept government assistance. I have many friends that accept WIC because they need the extra money. No person that is willing to put their life on the line should be below the poverty line. With 2008 pay charts, a soldier with a spouse and 2 children is below the poverty line if they are an E-4 or below (this is just a quick assessment – but really close). And while our pay is increased almost every year, it just never seems to catch up.
Also, while my next issue has improved greatly since Viet Nam, I want our military to always be respected and be an example of what is right in the world. There are too many role models that are actors, singers, athletes and reality TV no-bodies that I would never want my children to emulate. I wish that more people would look to our military men and women as role models. My hope is that someday all people will understand and respect the military the way General Douglas MacArthur did in his speech “Duty, Honor, Country”.
So perhaps the next time someone makes an off-color comment about my husband’s profession, maybe I will retort with Eleanor Roosevelt or General MacArthur instead of getting catty. And hope, for now, that someday, everyone will want to be just like the members of our Armed Forces — brave, honorable, and willing to serve.