A Fight We Will Never Win
By Kelly Crigger
For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!”
But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country” when the guns begin to shoot;
An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;
An’ Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool — you bet that Tommy sees!
When I was assigned to a Special Forces unit there was a saying: “There are some people you can train, teach, and give books to but all they’ll do is eat the covers.” The point was that no matter what you do, some people are so set in their ways that they cannot be taught, much less changed. Nowhere is that more true than right here in the USA when it comes to supporting the military. I want to believe every American supports their country’s brave troops but in reality there are many who hold us in contempt, criticize, judge, and even hate us.
And that’s okay.
No, really. It is. Everyone has a right to express their opinion even if that opinion is to castrate the very people who afford them that right. There are those who will never understand what we do and instead of trying to, make it a point to hate us.
The war within me to balance these hateful sheep against the sheepdogs who protect them is intense. I constantly tell myself to “just let it go” when in fact I want to lash out. I repeat a mantra that the average person has the luxury of not knowing what veterans know. That kicking in the door of a scared, screaming family is unforgettable. That picking up the remains of a friend will drop the strongest man to his knees. That pulling the trigger on a man, whether he’s an unapologetic sworn enemy or not, is gut wrenching and deep inside while you stare at yourself in the mirror you have to believe that it was for something bigger. That some greater cause brought you to that moment when you took a life. Most importantly you want and need to believe that your lifelong physical and emotional scars are appreciated and understood by your countrymen.
But they’re not. At least not all. There are plenty of people who hate you. Not only that but openly judge and criticize you as the embodiment of evil and cruelty.
My theory is that this comes from a belief that North America is uninvadable and impenetrable which breeds a false sense of security that no one can attack us from within or from afar and therefore we don’t need a military. The simple fact of the matter is that engaging our enemies in their back yard is better than waiting for them to come to New York, Boston, or Main Street USA. The only way to do that is to have a strong standing military made up of volunteers who truly want to protect their countrymen. Otherwise we fall back into the same laissez faire thinking that got us Pearl Harbor, Korea, and 9-11. It can and will happen and almost always does when we least expect it.
And still they hate us. They live and breathe under the blanket of security that we provide because it’s universal and in many ways that’s the great tragedy of it. Whether you’re Mother Theresa, a crack whore, or a journalist who can’t stop ridiculing the military, you receive 100% of our effort and sacrifice. They’ll say they didn’t ask for that protection when in fact they did. Being an American citizen obligates all of us to adhere to a social contract that says you will sacrifice some of your freedoms in order to receive protection from the nation state you live in. Look it up here.
When the uneducated criticize our way of life, it’s easy to let them get under my skin, but I can’t. When it comes to the military naysayers, letting my primal side win out over my reasonable side would be violating the very trust that every veteran has in me. It would be letting down the man on my left and right because the unmistakable headline would surely not be not “man beats man to death” but “veteran beats man to death…and he probably had PTSD.”
I repeat over and over in my head, they just don’t know what I do. That the world is full of bad people and keeping them as far away from our shores as possible is the only way to guarantee the safety and security of the American people. And that’s really what it’s all about – security.
You can tell yourself all day that the American way of life is about free elections, freedom of speech, freedom to assemble, the rule of law, a free market economy, whatever. But in reality none of those things happen without basic security first and foremost. You need the deep seated belief that when you get thirsty and head down to 7-11 to get a soda, no one is going to shoot at you. You need to believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that your kids can get on a bus without the chance of being blown up for being radicals. You need the security of knowing that when you run a marathon there’s no chance of an IED going off and killing your family from the sidelines.
Gun violence in America has eroded this security, but for the most part it’s still there, alive and well thanks to the sheepdogs who stand at post and protect the sheep. We don’t do this because we’re war mongers or psychopaths (as Bill Maher would have us believe), but because no one else will.
I think everyone should look in the mirror and ask a simple question: If there were a draft, would I serve or run? In 1941 there was no question. Everyone served because it was the honorable thing to do. If you’re reading this on the Rhino Den then you’re most likely the type who would also serve today. Unfortunately, America in 2013 would not have the same nationalistic wave of fervor that we had at the outbreak of World War II or even 9-11. Americans are very comfortable in their daily lives to even comprehend a life in uniform sacrificing their basic comforts and safety for someone else’s benefit. They can’t comprehend it and instead criticize us for answering the call to duty. When that happens there’s little more we can do than pass the ketchup while they eat their book covers.