I'm a day late for a Memorial Day post, I know. It's a hard holiday to get your head around, I think - or at least that's what some posts seemed to say. Maybe it's just hard for the under 10 crowd. And me.
Let me be clear - I have the utmost respect for the men and women who serve in the Armed Forces. To be willing to give your life for your country? That's a remarkable commitment, and one that should certainly be respected and honored. I just worry that so many of our young people who join the military do so because....well, because they don't have a lot of other options.
I have a bunch of kids who want to join the Army or the Marines because they think it's cool to be a soldier, or because they like the idea of firing guns, or because it's a family tradition, or because they want the money for their education. I'm not sure they think about what they'd actually be fighting for and if they want to potentially give their lives for something they might not actually believe in. I'm not sure we want them to think about what they might have to give their lives for; as Jose points out, we don't spend too much time on it these days.
I want my kids to question the inequities in our society, I want them to push for answers and justice, I want them to see both the wonderful things about America and all our dirty laundry and decide for themselves that this is still how they want to fight for their country, if it is. I don't want them to do it because they're pushed into it by someone else or because they need the money or because they think it'll be like a video game.
On Thursday, Sweet Child o' Mine came by to help me clean and organize my room. We were talking about his future; although he really wants to play for the NFL (of course), he said he'd been thinking about the military as an option. I asked why, and he said it seemed cool and the money for college was good; he said he didn't know much else but his friend's brother had liked it. I said that a lot of great things can come out of military careers and that I'd help him look into it further if he wanted. He said okay. A minute later, he spoke again, his voice softer. "But what if I, like....die?"
That's the rub of it. I'm glad we honor the sacrifices our soldiers have made. I just want to be sure that they're fully aware of what they're committing to when they make that commitment, and that they believe in the choice they make. They deserve that.
(Image by The US Army)