They are the main line of defense. The defense of our freedom, our rights and most importantly the defense of our lives. They are our military troops; the members of the Airforce, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and Army. The men and woman who are prepared, nay willing to lay down their lives so that we may live, and live free. And the gratitude they reap from the population is dismal.
There are over three hundred million people living in the United States, and of that there are just over 1.5 million that serve in the military. That translates to only .4 percent of the American people whose patriotism overrides the basic need of self protection, turning it into self sacrifice, something few of us truly understand and put to the test.
A few years back Westboro Baptist Church started making headlines. Not for uplifting messages and support for our troops, but rather protesting the funerals of our fallen with hate messages, that could only have devastated the friends and family of our heroes. To know they lost a child, spouse, lover or friend to the defense of others and have that brave soul hated and unsupported by the masses even in death. And there is no end in sight with Westboro Baptist promising to quadruple their protests after Congress enacted laws to protect these victims and families.
There has been a growing need to protest the wars our nation enters into. To protest the death and destruction that war brings to people all over the world, and individuals and corporations that profit from the misery. But in doing so we have lost sight of the one thing we should be showing the most support for: our troops. They don't get to decide what quarrels they must immerse themselves into. That decision is made by the officials we elect and the troops must simply follow orders. Is it truly so difficult to support them as individuals, units, squadrons and divisions if you can't support what cause they have been ordered to engage in? When our conflict comes from the war it is our job to correct the problems through our voices with the officials we elected into office while maintaining complete support and love for our troops to help bring them home safely.
The number one reason men and woman join the military today is pure patriotism. The true love for one's country (it's people) and the willingness to die for it. To leave behind their families so that other families may remain united and full and happy. People also join for the job stability and skills the military can offer them. The military can offer these men and women training and skills they can utilize not only in the military but in careers outside of the service if they so choose. So truly what these individuals seek is a way to better their lives and the lives of us all.
As a nation we were devastated by the attacks on our country on that fateful day, September 11th, but then were able to rejoice and receive vindication for our losses when Navy Seal Team 6 accomplished a goal of a life time. But did we truly redeem ourselves with the support we showed them? When members of Team Six were killed along with other military personnel, that claimed the lives of 25 American troops, when their helicopter was shot down did they understand the love and support we attempted to throw their way? As a nation we have become weary of war and often conflicted.
During World War II the American nation rallied in support of the war and our soldiers. Men joined in the services of the military in large numbers to take down the evil and oppressive powers of the Axis. Consumers, industries and the average citizen did all they could to support the Allies' efforts. Mini footage clips were run in movie theaters to engage the audiences with pro-war stamina. But almost thirty years later when we entered into the Vietnam war the support for our troops takes a complete 180.
Protests around the nation erupted like fire storms. And as the troops arrived home they were treated poorly for their participation in the war; which was given unwilling to those drafted. These war veterans were not treated as heroes but more like lepers to be scorned. Did the draft start to change our views on how we treated our troops in and out of wartime? Our memory of the Vietnam war has become a staple of what not to do when the U.S enters into conflict. But the unsupportive, hateful and protesting behvior we showed our troops not only severely damaged their morale and psyche, it also had long range effects on our Veterans Affairs programs, which were instituted to help them.
Now with the war on terrorism lasting over a decade the American support system for our troops is faltering once again. The greatest support our soldiers receive is from within. The support from their comrades in arms. In the United States Airforce there is a special ops group, called pararescue jumpers, whose sole mission to rescue the injured seamen, infantry, marines and airmen. They must be warriors and medics; entering active war zones to save and rescue lives. Their motto: So that others may live. On deeper reflection it seems appropriate to say this should also be the unofficial motto of all our troops.
The United States Coast Guard saves lives. Their missions run from the seemingly mundane to the unbelievable and yet are largely unrecognized for the safety they give our nation. One of the many jobs completed by the Coast Guard is the cleaning and replacement of buoys and their chains. A disgustingly dirty job that most of us would turn our noses down at. But without the continued maintenance work provided the buoys out at sea would become too heavy with sea life causing them to sink below surface. One buoy can cause substantial damage to any sailing vessel, from a personal sailboat to a carrier ship, risking the lives of the passengers on board. The Coast Guard also aid in chasing down boats carrying illegal drugs and dangerous people. They help track and rescue victims befallen to Somalian pirates. Much of these efforts go unnoticed by the population, and if it is so easily overlooked it also easily unsupported.
The Few The Proud. The Marine. The smallest entity in the United States military is the infamous marines. They are known for being hardcore, and they most definitely live up to their reputation. Their boot camp is the longest, three months, and have resisted the urges to soften their training. All marines must excel in rifle training along with passing rigorous physical tests. One of their special ops units is reconnaissance. Marine recon are usually the first to go in, most often in small groups, alone and behind enemy lines. They risk their lives to gather the information to make it safe as possible for other military units to move in if need be. And in return they are mocked for their tough and elite persona. In actuality they are needed just as much as the rest of military and deserve our unwavering support.
Infantry soldiers in the Army are probably the most recognized from news headlines. They are the men and woman on the ground, both over seas and at home, fighting for everything we hold dear. The sustain heavy casualties from multiple attacks from enemy fire. They patrol the streets of foreign lands protecting men, woman and children from terrorists. They are some of the many fallen whose funerals are being protested by hate groups, when they should be celebrated for their devotion and bravery.
There will certainly always be disagreements through out our nation when it comes to what wars we enlist in but there is one constant that should never waver: the support for the brave men and women who risk and lay down their lives for ours. The troops that make the sacrifices that 99.6 percent of the American population is unwilling to. We are a nation that claims unity in the face of adversities and so now we must stand united and wholly supporting the members of the American military, whose debt we owe can never be repaid. And so to all the troops: We thank you.