A day to remember the real heroes – not the Hollywood wannabes
America is great. Old Glory in all her splendor ripples in the wind during war and peace and through it all America is able to turn to its heroes to exemplify honor, valor, courage and to protect the homeland from the evil that seeks her destruction.
This is their day, the heroes, the military brethren that wake up each day and wear the country’s uniform. Most go about their day doing whatever they are asked, some are simple tasks that may go unnoticed, but collectively they are the Armed Forces of the United States and without the little things the entire process could not work effectively.
America has been relatively lucky when it comes to combat on her soil with the exception of Pearl Harbor and 9/11-war has been waged overseas in faraway lands. But with this foreign battlefield comes complacency and a growing number of Americans have lost touch with the Middle East War on Terror.
After Vietnam the U.S. did away with the draft and as such more Americans have no attachment to Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom battles. But for those who continue to serve in the Armed Forces danger lurks daily as they train, fight and win the battle abroad. It’s quietly expected of them.
Along with the implied expectation of honor, service members are asked to carry the burden of war, remember lost soldiers but always think and move forward.
One only needs to visit Walter Reed Hospital in Washington D.C. to see the heroism. On a recent trip to the hospital, I found service members of all ranks and military background displaying honor and valor. Most injured soldiers wanted to get back to their units in the warzone as soon as possible.
The attitude of these brave soldiers was the opposite of what I expected. I remember my first visit vividly. I told myself to stay brave; the soldiers will be in bad shape. However, what I found was an extraordinary group of Americans who opened up to me, reassuring me that everything was going to be okay. They were strong. They were proud. They were American soldiers.
“Some people work an entire lifetime and wonder if they ever made a difference to the world. But the Marines don’t have that problem,” former 40th President Ronald Reagan said. These words lingered in the air that day at Walter Reed Hospital.
America’s young soldiers hold the key to the country’s success or failure. In a modernistic, 24/7 internet, television frenzied society kids are hit with a barrage of explicit, forward-thinking lifestyles that hold no moral values. The “me generation” has arrived in all its un-glory.
Rock stars, actors, actresses and athletes are rewarded with outrageous sums of money in the form of lucrative contracts. Drunk driving, drug possession and usage, bar fights, domestic violence are just a few of the charges that litter their permanent records. These are the “faux heroes” our young kids grow up admiring- again not the right direction for a country in the midst of two wars.
The heroes our young people should be emulating are the nameless soldiers who leave their families for months at a time, fighting an enemy on foreign shores, living in extreme conditions and standing guard- all for very little money.
These soldiers are proud, strong, skilled and unwavering in their faith for America.
I know it seems like a cliché to shake the hand of a service member and thank them for their service, but it really is appreciated.
A recent conversation with a few Navy Seals shed a lot of light on why they do- what they do. It’s certainly not for the money. It definitely wasn’t because they had no other options in life (A big misnomer of the military is filled with poor kids looking for a chance in the military. The majority are kids hail from solid middleclass families who take pride in serving their country).
The Special Forces take pride in their training and their readiness for just about any mission America throws their way. They quietly leave to serve in the most dangerous parts of the world, complete their mission and return home without tickertape parades. These brave soldiers put their lives on the line and do it without any recognition. They are heroes.
Their only request of me, the dreaded media, was to let Americans know they put their heart and souls into protecting this country. They don’t expect money or fame, but admit it would be nice if average Americans didn’t think they were doing this because they had no other choices in life. In fact, it’s the opposite. Many do go to college and the one’s I’ve been lucky enough to meet are well-spoken, smart and have an incredible sense of humor.
These soldiers point to America’s fascination with movie stars and athletes as a sad state of affairs with society and a loss of Patriotism.
On one hand you have Tiger Woods, a billionaire, who misuses prescription drugs and sleeps with anyone and everyone while married, and continues to be touted as the best.
On the other hand you have a young Marine who is on track to be the first living recipient of the Medal of Honor since Vietnam. Dakota Meyer, 22, of Kentucky braved an intense fire fight in Eastern Afghanistan to retrieve four fallen soldiers from the enemy in September of 2009.
The military has only given out one Medal of Honor in the Iraq/Afghanistan War. Marine, Cpl. Jason Dunham received the Armed Services highest award after he threw himself on a grenade in Karabilah, Iraq in 2004 that ultimately took his life, but saved the lives of his unit.
Rear Admiral J.R. Stark, of the U.S. Navy had bold words for the Marines. “Marines I see as two breeds, Rottweilers or Dobermans, because Marines come in two varieties, big and mean, or skinny and mean. They’re aggressive on the attack and tenacious on defense. They’ve got really short hair and they always go for the throat.”
Today is Veteran’s Day- a day to stop and remember those who paid the ultimate price for America’s freedom. It’s a day to be proud to be American and a day to honor the nameless heroes who get up every morning to do their part to keep America safe. Our safety is in their hands.
Lucky for us civilians, America’s soldiers are the best and the brightest in this country and we can all sleep well knowing they are always watching over America- ensuring her liberty and freedom forever.