Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Worrisome Gap, Indeed.

I didn't serve.

I should have. I regret that I didn't. I believe that I would have made a good serviceman. But for whatever reason, I did not.

I now attempt to serve my little community as a patrolman. I don't kid myself about what the job is, and I get paid, so I refuse to accept praises beyond my actual worth.

But every serviceman who signs up for the armed forces of this nation puts himself or herself at risk of being put in harm's way. Yes, even the pogues and the REMFs and the supposedly non-combat support personnel. All may be sent into a hostile country, wearing our nation's uniform. And in truth, our D.O.D. is famous for taking a physicist or an engineer, handing him a rifle, and telling him to march in the front of the line instead of plying his preferred trade. Guys that sign up for easy duty might not get it. That's the risk. They've all got that in common.

But we who do not serve don't often think about those who do, unless someone close to us is in the military. Even now, with our servicemen and women scattered around the globe on two and a half fronts, we forget. Yes, we do.

So I find that the words of Admiral Mike Mullen (head of Joint Chiefs Of Staff) hit home when he describes a gulf between our military and the nation that it serves. He said that we who are on the outside are more and more failing to grasp what those on the inside are experiencing, and what their needs are.
"This is important, because a people uninformed about what they are asking the military to endure is a people inevitably unable to fully grasp the scope of the responsibilities our Constitution levies upon them," he said.
Our jobs on the home front are varied, but we all have a duty to this nation. The first duty, it would seem, is to remember.

Maybe, in between the pouring of drunks back into their houses or into jail cells this three-day weekend, I can remind one or two citizens of why we have the holiday weekend. Because frankly, it's easier to forget than it should be.

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6 Comments:

At Sunday, May 29, 2011 8:44:00 PM, Blogger Groundhog said...

I wrote that blank check to uncle Sam in 1982 at 17. Went into the Infantry as a reservist. Might have stayed Army had the Air Force not offered me quicker active duty. As it was I saw only one war from a great distance (first gulf war). I was active duty on mobility, didn't go. My buddy was in the frickin Guard, he went. Go figure. Life's like that. Still, I can't comprehend the sacrifice of those who gave limb or life for us. The truck driver who gets killed by an IED, the Airmen who died when a SCUD hit their base in the first gulf war, none of these people probably ever thought they'd have that check filled out. As it was, myself and most others get that check back pretty much 100% empty. An awful lot of us sit around in middle age wishing we could have done more though, and still try to figure out how to do more. There's some survivors guilt there I'm sure. We all served but some paid far more for it than others. I, like you, stand in great respect for them.

You sir, are on the front lines here at home. Never sell yourself short. You may spend your whole career pouring those drunks in the back of your patrol car but you wrote a check too. Every day you go out it could get cashed and we both know it. I'm sure you already heard about our deputy down here in Bexar county this weekend. Your job, your service, like mine was, is probably mostly menial grunt work lacking in fun and excitement, but your training also covered those moments when YOU might have to lay it all on the line. You serve too and I for one appreciate that and would be proud to stand beside you and salute those that gave more than we did.

 
At Sunday, May 29, 2011 9:42:00 PM, Blogger Old NFO said...

Thanks for 'remembering' Matt. It IS appreciated.

 
At Monday, May 30, 2011 10:25:00 PM, Blogger J.R.Shirley said...

Hoping this ain't survivor's guilt. Even most of those who get shot at come back.

Let it go.

 
At Tuesday, May 31, 2011 11:32:00 AM, Blogger An Ordinary American said...

When I did my job in the military, I had exemplary training and pretty much my choice of weapons up to and including explosives and air support.

When I did my job in civilian law enforcement, I had a handgun, a sawed off Remington 870 Chipmunk and an AR15 (NOT an M16). That was it.

Oh, I had a radio. You know, for when "seconds count, your backup will be here in minutes" kind of thing.

In the military, I knew that my teammates were trained as well as I was and would walk through Hell to drag me back to safety.

I was never quite that certain in law enforcement. I kept hearing, "Your job is to go home to your family every night." I ended up going in alone on most warrants. Why not, after all, I was single and one of those "psycho vets" the older cops would whisper about when your back was turned.

Those were the same cops who were perpetually sixty-pounds overweight, sweated through their annual dust-off-the-gun range qualifications, and loved getting every single freebie and perk they could squeeze out of civilians with their badges.

I couldn't take it anymore. I got out after Ruby Ridge. Sent my badge and credentials back to Maclean, Virginia via UPS overnight with a FUVM letter of resignation. Turned my firearms in to the ATF agents, left the car keys on our secretary's desk.

Those who can do The Job every day and still remember that it is the Constitution they serve and not the local treasury or budget committee have most veterans' unending respect and admiration--especially those of us who have done both.

Don't ever, ever sell yourself short for not having served. You're serving in a capacity today that many of us simply could not do.

In combat, you can see an end. Light at the end of the tunnel. Change. You know your rotation or your mission will end eventually, and you can rotate back home.

I never saw that light in law enforcement. Instead, I always saw one more warrant, one more fugitive, one more drug dealer, one more murderer, one more criminal that needed arresting.

And I saw the carnage those people left behind--right here in my own country.


Best regards,

--An Ordinary American

 
At Monday, June 06, 2011 10:46:00 PM, Blogger ASM826 said...

I clicked to say some of what Groundhog said, but he already said it and better than I would have. Any day, the next drunk, the next traffic stop, you're on duty and you don't get to know if or when you'll be called upon.

Semper Fi,
ASM826

 
At Friday, June 10, 2011 5:59:00 AM, Blogger Carteach0 said...

When I was 18 I made that choice..... service, or married with a job. I chose married. Hindsight showed me it wasn't necessarily the best choice. Sometimes I regret not serving, although I doubt I would have made a good soldier. Mostly, I regret missing the 'service to my country' part of the equation.

Now I am a teacher, and I help Shepard 50 young Americans a year from a sheltered existence into life. Is this morally the same as being a soldier? No, it's not. But... it is service, and it's one so very, very few will do.

I'm satisfied, and can hold my head up in any crowd I'm in.

Still.... I feel a debt to our people who serve, and honor them for their choice.

Last week, my son told me he's joining the Marines. He's 22, doesn't need to ask my blessing, and is already half way to boarding the bus to the island.
I suspect he was afraid I wouldn't approve of his choice.....

He was wrong. I worry for him, as I KNOW he will go towards the danger, not away..... but I am so proud of him I could bust.

 

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