Monday, February 11, 2008


Berkley. Toledo. Verizon. Hilton. The list goes on endlessly.
More and more often, those of us in uniform are being shunned. Reading commentary on news articles, it’s apparent that many view the military as a dreadnaught, bent on the eventual establishment of a military dictatorship. Many feel we should be kept separate from the population—left to train, fight, and live away from civilians. They feel that our training to conduct Stability and Support operations is secretly planned to “desensitize” the population to accept military presence and eventually, military rule.

Lately, I wonder if the country is worth defending, let alone saving. People refer to posse commitatus as cause to keep the military away from civilians. PC is really a law that says we can’t be used AGAINST the citizenry and can’t be used to conduct Police action against citizens. Granted, there are times when the military is used for civilian population control—LA, Watts, Chicago—and disaster relief (Katrina, Hugo, Andrew)—and even to fight forest fires. These are extreme conditions that require the use of our specialized abilities. Abilities like manpower, communications, logistical and medical support, and WAY down the list is law enforcement.

I think what bothers me most is the distrust of the defenders. People posit that the military would follow orders to establish some kind of police state. In effect, they believe that we are all brainwashed to follow orders without thought. They believe that we are incapable of free thought, that we will follow any order, regardless of its legality.

Truth be told, even if the law changed to make it legal, I wouldn’t follow an order like that. I am a citizen first, soldier second. All of us wearing the various uniforms of the DoD are citizens first. We were not dragged from our homes by recruiters, we willingly joined the service and took our oaths. But people don’t see us that way.

Once we put on the green, or blue, or khaki, we immediately lose our free will, individuality, and ability to follow reason or logic. We become the mindless automatons of future fiction, Orwellian monsters bent on control. Toledo brought this to a point with me. Commentary ran along the lines of “The marines don’t belong among us.” Those Marines are Americans, too. They don’t belong among other Americans?

This complete lack of understanding within the population of who and what we are is appalling. It really highlights the separation we face, as 1/300th of the population. There are 1 million Military personnel, defending 300 Million citizens. Veterans and Memorial holidays are all but meaningless, little more than an opportunity for businesses to advertise and politicians to blather on about “supporting the troops” whether they support the mission or not. People exchange the ribbon du jour for a yellow one, or a red-white-and blue ribbon, and wear it until the next cause or holiday comes along. Businesses are sure to slap their banners, slogans, and ads on every moving or visible stationary object… where they can get the maximum exposure to their customers. Sure, they’ll give support to the parade committee… for some opportunity to have “face time” with the crowds. As long as they get something out of the deal, it’s a good idea.

What do we, as a county, really do to honor Veterans and memorialize the sacrifices of others? Most people can’t really explain the difference between 11 November and the last Monday in may—except to know it’s another day off, to be spent at the sale racks and the backyard barbecues. Most people don’t even bother to attend the local parades. And military and veteran’s hospitals are virtually ghost towns on three-day weekends. I know, I’ve been in them for many holidays.

The country has grown away from its defenders. We are seen as outsiders in our own land, unwanted, unwelcome, and only kept as a necessary evil. We are the red-haired stepchildren that our own countrymen really wish would just fade into the background noise of society. We’re the most silent minority, bound by duty and honor to protect a population from the world, at cost of our own lives and fortunes, and we will accept every slight, every disgrace, every act of bigotry against us from our own citizenry—even the worst assault—that we willingly waste our lives, and are held as objects of scorn and ridicule.

I still believe in the ideals of our founding fathers. I believe in our military and its missions. I believe in the potential greatness of our society and nation. I believe in everything except the support of the overall population. I know there are many who support the nation’s defenders. I am honored to know many of them, who will sacrifice all they have for those who serve. They are the ones who I fight for—the ones whose freedom I will die for.

The contrarians—the people who malign the military, who repudiate us, who see us at best as a necessary evil—they may have numbers equal to our supporters. Their numbers may be greater, may be fewer, but they are just as vocal in their detraction as our supporters are in their ovation. They refuse to stand up and be counted, so it is hard to gauge their numbers, and determine if this country does or does not stand behind its defenders.

Worse still are those who are lukewarm. Who show support when it is fashionable, and rail against the government and military when that, too is en vogue. They truly don’t concern themselves otherwise with us; we don’t really have any affect or effect on them and their observable world. As long as the bread sustains them and circuses entertain them, we simply don’t matter, or even exist.

I would be hard pressed to convince my son or daughter to defend them.

And so I am left a soldier who holds a large part of his nations’ population in contempt rivaling the scorn they hold me in; a toxic situation that may someday devolve into active aggression. Good thing we’ve got the really cool guns, and these same asshats are usually the ones wanting to take guns out of civilian hands.

I pity them, I really do. Many are so blind with hatred and rage that they are incapable o reasoning or rational thought. They malign and impugn our president, our government, the military, big business, and anything else they know little about as evil and bloodthirsty.

I’m spent. I am exhausted mentally and physically drained as well. Pain and medication both take their toll, wearing me down until I just don’t want to resist any more… just want the niggling pain to disappear, instead of simply being kept at bay. I want to sleep without dreams, without memories that leave me breathless and awake; my heart pounding so hard I feel it will erupt from my chest. And then alone, awake, with my thoughts, fears, and regret, to suffer until I can at long last collapse—hopefully too tired to dream.

It must be the brainwashing and mind-control beams again… time to buy more Reynolds’s wrap.


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