Respect for service

Thursday, May 17, 2018

It has often been said that when you join the military you sign a blank check payable to the government for your life. The U.S. government never cashes that check that all soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines have signed. Traditionally and thankfully, most military personnel do not come close to completing that transaction.

Our national cemeteries are full of those who became victims of wars and accidents. Our VA hospitals care for thousands whose lives have been changed and their bodies and minds have been left scarred by events in their military service. There are also many who have survived capture and the torture inflicted upon them by the enemy. The one thing that all of these veterans who are alive, disabled, or dead thought when they first donned the uniform. They believed that however they fared that their service would be appreciated and valued by the citizens of this country. Apparently, that is a false belief. There are people who denigrate the service of those killed, captured, or disabled.

The one thing that angers me more than almost anything else is to hear anyone's military record dishonored, denigrated, or belittled. That is especially true when the perpetrator of those insults avoided military service themselves. When you hear of someone who managed to avoid military service, especially during war time, do this keep one thing in mind. If the military needs 100,000 men and women they will get 100,000 men and women. If someone avoids serving then someone else will be selected to fill that vacant slot. While that individual who avoided service may rationalize his or her actions as being in their best interest, consider what the result would have been had the majority felt that way. What would our country look like if our government had been under Nazi or communist control?

This column was prompted by the White House staffer who brushed off U.S. Sen. John McCain's opinion as unimportant because he is dying from brain cancer. To me, that is almost as disgusting as claiming that surviving capture and torture for years means the service member isn't a hero. Apparently, appreciation and compassion have no place in today's American politics.

Jack Dragoni attended Boston College and served in the U.S. Army in Berlin and Vietnam. He lives in Chaffee, Missouri.

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