November 11, 2017.
It took me several days and a couple of football games to find words for what I was thinking and feeling. Maybe I am just noticing it more. Or, maybe it has been pulled more to the surface and sharpened by the protest of kneeling during the national anthem and the reaction that has caused. Whatever the reason, it seems in recent years we have paid much more attention to Veterans Day than what I remember. I find that curious. We give more lip service to Veterans Day and to our public display of honoring veterans at the very same time that a smaller and smaller percentage of the population has served or is serving in the Armed Forces.
Most of us have not served.
Most of us don’t want to serve.
Most of us, don’t want our children to serve.
Most of us, don’t want our grandchildren to serve.
I recall a comment made during the war in Iraq. Someone said the best and fastest way to end the war which was becoming increasingly unpopular was to reinstitute the draft and to begin sending suburban young men and young women to Iraq.
All of which makes me wonder what is going on here.
Are we ramping up our recognition of veterans as a way of deflecting other conversations we need to have or avoiding the harder, more complicated questions? Conversation and question such as:
- If the conflicts we are engaged in are really in our national interest/our own best interest, why are we allowing them to be fought by such a small percentage of our population?
- What is the cost of repeated deployments on individuals? On families? On communities? On our country?
- Why is it those who serve in our Armed Forces come primarily from the inner city or from our more rural communities where educational opportunities are often less than in our suburban communities?
- Are we using our support of veterans as a cover to keep us facing the racism which continues to plague our country?
I am sure the list could go on.
Please don’t misunderstand me.
This, in no way, is meant to question or to disrespect veterans or those who serve in the Armed Forces. Instead it is meant as a challenge to us who are not veterans.
I have thought for some time that if we going to continue to demand so much of those in the Armed Forces and are serious about national service to our country we should institute a national service program. Each young adult should serve our country for two years in some capacity. The Armed Forces. Americorps. The Peace Corps. Teachers’ Aide in an at risk school. A re-imagined Civilian Conservation Corps. If we did something like that we would all have more of a stake in who we are as a nation that is more than applause and lip service or standing for the national anthem.