What do you think when you see a military person in their cammo getup? What is the prevailing feeling that comes over you? If you had to sum it up with one word, what would it be?
I’m not asking if you agree with the war in Iraq. I’m talking about when you see a guy in the convenient store wearing his uniform and you figure he’s probably on his way home from the base, or when you see a photo of a gun-toating Marine somewhere far away from where you are, or a photo of someone graduating from West Point, or of soldiers lined up in their dress blues at a fallen brother’s funeral, what is the emotion that is common to all those images? Your particular circumstance will shape your answer.
I didn’t serve my country. I have a medical defect that got my father discharged from the Army, and since I have it too I figured there would be no use even trying to enlist. As I’ve gotten older I’ve grown more and more regretful about that, and even though it’s something I had no control over I can’t stop wishing that military service was a part of my history. Because of that, I think, the emotion that seeing a serviceman conjurs up in me is different from what some might feel. I suppose a veteran will feel pride. “I did that, I served my country just like that guy is doing.” I feel pride too, a different pride. Mine is more of a “I’m proud of you, proud for what you enable this country to be. Proud to be able to speak my mind openly because of you and those before you.” But that isn’t the prevailing emotion with me. No, as someone who didn’t serve, who didn’t contribute to keeping this country great, the site of a man or woman in the act of serving this country fills me mainly with one thing. I hope it’s the same thing everyone in this country who hasn’t been in the military feels. It’s what you feel when someone does something huge for you without being asked and without expecting a reward.