So others need not...

It's Veteran's Day, well, it is the federally sanctioned observence. Yesterday was the actual event. I attended church with Citizen Prime. I was surprised, and a little humbled, to have the pastor ask for the veterans to stand and be recognized. There were about 200 people in attendance. Judging by the respective ages of those standing, I would place the number of current service members in attendance at less than 3.

My grandfather served in the war to end all wars, and then was promptly shipped overseas to serve in the sequel to that bloody conflict. My own father served as an artillery officer in the Korean War. That conflict, to this day, continues - as no peace treaty was ever signed.

I joined the service twice. I signed up as a NROTC scholarship recipient. I was unable to see that through as a college student, fortuitiously ti would prove later. I signed up again in 1997 as a direct commission officer in a Navy program. It was a time when everything looked very different from today. The discussion was to the necessity of large scale military spending. The hardest job was serving in the Balkans (we are still there). Reservists were struggling to serve in value added roles and contribute to their active commands.

Obviously, things have changed. I have always maintained that one of the primary reasons I serve is so that the two proto-citizens will not have to make that choice. I can not help but think that my father and grandfather thought the same things.

We are at a strange crossroads in our society. We live in a world where we can truly insulate ourselves from the misery and danger of the non-civilized world to a large degree. Aside from countries actively embroiled in war (Israel) the remainder of the developed world can operate without fear. And yet the balance is a fine one. The Balkans, previously mentioned, existed as a civilized state under the aegis of the Yugoslavian government. Once that veneer was torn away, centuries of ethnic hatred boiled over into Europe's worst war in half a century.

So, as I sit here in Atlanta airport, I reflect upon the young Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines who trek unnoticed between flights in this massive transportation center. At the security gate I watched a young, female private kiss her daughter good bye. I don't know where she was bound, but she carried the sadness of her separation cradled inside a hope that she served so that her daughter would not have to make that choice.

Sister, I know the feeling.


Major John said…
I don't think about my service as a way to prevent my children from having to make the choice to serve or not - I serve so that they will still be able to make that choice. As long as we volunteer, no one is compelled.

And if someone doesn't want to step up, I don't want them with me or mine. When conscription was an accepted part of society, perhaps it was different - but now...I think not.

Anyhoo, off to OIF I go!
It was interesting and humbling on Sunday to observe Remembrance Day here in the UK....We all wore our poppies, the band played on, small children putting crosses by the war memorial, the respect given not only to the veterans but those still serving....very moving experience.
Citizen Deux said…
Major, it is not that I do not want my sons to be able to serve - it is that I would love to be the last necessary warrior.

Having said that, the thought of any conscript force fills me with dread.

Let none stand in the gap who do not go willingly.