This is probably the most difficult blog post I have ever written. Not because of the subject, about which I am extremely passionate. Instead, because of the timing.
This week, as I have been trying to draft a blog post specifically about Veteran’s Day, and the significance of the day, as a proud Army wife, whose father, siblings, and grandfathers are all veterans, I have been bombarded with pictures on the news of citizens trampling the American flag under foot, and in some instances, setting it on fire. And, that sickens me, and makes me want to cry.
Every person trampling on, or setting fire to, an American flag, is trampling on the worldwide, recognized, symbol that represents a love for something that thousands of valiant and brave men and women have died to protect – freedom.
In January 2015, only .4 percent of the American population were active duty military service members. As of 2014, there were only approximately 22 million military service veterans in the United States’ population. It is estimated that only 1.4 percent of all female Americans have ever served in the military, and only 13.4 percent of all male Americans have worn the military uniform. Those are staggeringly low numbers.
I have witnessed first-hand, how combat impacts men and women. And this week I have been faced with watching scenes unfurl across this country of people trampling on the principles upon which these veterans fought.
In the movie Black Hawk Down, the character of Hoot summed up a sentiment I have heard veterans utter time and again:
When I go home, people will ask me, ‘Hey, Hoot, why do you do it man? What? You some kind of war junkie?‘ You know what I’ll say? I won’t say a g—–n word. Why? They won’t understand. They won’t understand why we do it. They won’t understand that it’s about the men next to you, and that’s it. That’s all it is.
For veterans, the flag is a symbol of freedom and democracy. It is also a symbol of love, duty, honor, commitment, selfless sacrifice.
When service members and veterans take up such a minor segment of our population, no wonder people think it is okay to trample on this symbol of freedom and democracy.
During their time in service, our veterans forfeit, to some extent, a right we all enjoy–to openly express their views and sentiments regarding politicians, and more importantly, their Commander in Chief. In a way, this is yet another sacrifice willingly made by our veterans in order to safeguard the rights and freedoms of the rest of the population.
And now, the veterans are watching the symbol of their sacrifices being trampled upon and burnt. Perhaps because they have only a small voice in our population, people forget that Old Glory stands for something.
To borrow a phrase famously attributed to Sir Winston Churchill, “Never in the face of human conflict has so much been owed by so many, to so few.”
So, today, I want to take a moment to thank my husband for his selfless service to our country.
I want to thank my brother and brother-in-law for their continued service.
I want to thank all the wonderful men and women in uniform that I know continue to serve faithfully.
I want to thank my other brother for his service during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
I want to thank my father for his service from the Vietnam War through the Gulf War.
I want to thank my grandfathers for their service during the end of World War II and the Korean War.
I want to thank all my family members, and countless numbers of friends and mentors who answered the call to serve.
I want to thank all the veterans I was blessed to serve as I began my clinical social work career, especially those who were not greeted home with a hug, a kiss, and a, “Job Well-Done!” by their fellow countrymen.
And, I want to thank the veterans I have never gotten to meet, both male and female.
Because, without your service and selfless sacrifice, we would not be the land of the free.