I will probably take a thrashing for this one, but here it is regardless. Firstly, I’m a vet, a proud vet at that…rest of the story after comments.
With Memorial Day coming up soon, I had to touch a topic that has grown to bother me more and more. It started years ago when our city started hosting an air show every Memorial Day weekend, and it is called “Salute to veterans”. Sorry folks, Memorial Day is there to honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice and died in the service of our country. We have a day for veterans, and it is called, you guessed it, Veterans Day, and that takes place six months after Memorial Day. Memorial Day should be observed with a ceremony at the local memorial for the war dead, or at a local cemetery where war vets may be buried. It should not be parades with Corvette owners and their prom queen daughters waving from the window. It should not be the local high school band playing songs having nothing to do with anything. It should not be a drunken barbecue either. We should get rid of Armed Forces Day too, we have Memorial Day and Veterans Day, that should about cover it. Active duty does not need special recognition (other than a thank you), not until their service years are over.
The topic that is really driving me crazy lately is the seemingly endless butt kissing, by calling everyone who served in the military a “hero”. Sorry folks, not everyone who has served in the military is a hero, not even if that time is during war. On the local radio station the other day, they had an Air Force member on the show. The guy had been in for 1.5 years, and the station was so eager to suck up to him, that they started playing Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins…duh, which happens to be a Navy themed movie. It was quite embarrassing.
No, the hero name needs to be about people who are winners of the Medal of Honor, or maybe the Navy Cross (other branch equals apply). A hero is a guy who selflessly puts himself in the way of danger to protect his fellow Marine, Soldier, Sailor, or Airman. A lot of times these people don’t survive what they did, but that’s just it, they didn’t think about the end result, only the help they could give at that second. They deserve being called a hero.
Yes, we were at war in Iraq for a long time. Yes, we have been at war in Afghanistan longer than any other war our country has been involved in. Yes, people who volunteer to do a job that by nature could possibly result in them being maimed or killed. Are they all heroes? No. Fireman are not all heroes, police are not all heroes, and neither are all our military members. At times do they perform heroic acts? Yes. So do fireman and police. But again, they are not all heroes.
I am a veteran of eight years service to our country in the U.S. Marine Corps. I served in Desert Storm, which was a war. Our position took incoming Iraqi rocket fire for numerous days until we could take out the source. We slept with our rifles and in full uniform, knowing we would be up at some point in the middle of the night to make a dash for the bunkers. Were we heroes? No. We were a bunch of guys who signed up in the Marine Corps because that was the branch most likely to get in a good fight. We came from all walks of life, some guys were rock solid and some guys were dirt bags. Some could be relied on, some could not. Some would have your back in the most brutal street fight, some would not. Were we all heroes? No.
Folks, I know this whole column goes against the current line of hero-worship taking place, but let’s keep some perspective. I’m very glad there are people who voluntarily join the military, it is a hard way of life, always on the road, away from family. It can be tough. It can also be very personally rewarding, and a hell of a lot of fun!
Clearly I can’t speak for everyone, but as far as I’m concerned, if you found out I was in the service and you said to me “hey, thanks for your service”, I would reply “thanks, you bet, I would do it again in a heartbeat”.
Anyone who reads this and served…thanks for your service.