Thursday, February 23, 2006

Target of opportunity

I had a bad day today. I required a way to burn off the anger in a productive manner. Luckily a commenter stepped up to provide the release I needed.

Earlier this month something I wrote prompted a commenter named Salmino to write something that prompted a response from one of my six readers. I figured that Sal was simply someone who followed a link from another blog, read a post, commented, and moved on with his life. Maybe he did, but he came back. And luckily for me he caught me in a good mood.

Sal writes:

We have 53 members in our family. We all live within 17 miles of each other. Our ranks are filled with eight military age youths under 25 and two 17 year olds.

We have convinced all of them that you are the devil incarnate. They will not be doing military service. We pitched in to pay their education bills and/or set up accounts to pay.

We are better organized than you and our incentive is love, not career.

Just thought you'd like to know.

Sal, I appreciate the notice. I'll go ahead and take your eight or ten relatives off my Lead Refinement List. I'm curious though? Do you have eight relatives under 25 INCLUDING the two 17 year olds, or are they separate? I'm going to assume you actually meant you have eight relatives under 25, including two who are 17, for a total of eight.

Why the hell have y'all not moved away? Afraid of that big scary world out there? Afraid to venture too far from the apron's hem? I'll let you in on a little secret. The world is a lot less scary than it could be thanks to the sacrifices made by men and women who chose to make a commitment to the defense of the nation. Without those men and women standing ready to do harm in your defense, your world would be far more dangerous place.

I like how your family groupthink has conspired to deny your own flesh and blood the freedom of choice. What would you do if one of your nephews came up to you and said that he wanted to serve? That, somehow, someway, I showed him that military service was a right, honorable, just thing to do. That it had nothing to do with money, but honor and being an American. I showed him how his service to his country would be representing the other 52 members of his family. That his service would be his family's way of giving back to the country that made it possible for them to have the resources to put 8 to 10 people through college. What would you do then? Would you let him make that choice? Would you accept that your mature, grown-up family member had made a mature, responsible decision? Or would you rant and rave? Cut him off from the family fortune, and disavow connection with someone who would be so... unfaithful to the family?

The stance of you and your family is disappointing. It's your right to do so. If you don't want someone you care about to serve, fine. Your opinion, and if they listen to it, their choice. It, quite honestly, doesn't bother me one way or another. Hell, you're probably not even in my area so your refusal to serve, literally, doesn't affect me. But even if you were in my territory I wouldn't care. You know why?

Of the 8 to 10 people who think I'm the devil quite of few of them won't even be eligible for service. It might pain you to realize this, but someone in that group is overweight, someone is a criminal, someone has an inhaler in their pocket, and someone won't crack a 20 on the ASVAB. A few of your family members might as well go and see a recruiter because they'll be handed a March 2 Success flyer and told to come back after studying for a couple weeks. It's sad but true.

Your family's commitment to not serving effects recruiters not one bit. Because luckily there are families out there who consider the military a good thing.

If someone were to say you're more organized than I they'd be damning you with faint praise. And I highly doubt your 53 member family would be able to organize the resources necessary to fund the GI Bill for the 2,000,000 people currently serving. You're welcome to try though.

Serving in the military, serving in the Army is an act of love. To be in the uniform is to give of yourself. To give a part of you to everyone. Sure, we do it for the money. Gotta get paid afterall. We do it for the benefits. Free health care rocks! We do it for the fact that chicks dig a guy in uniform. My pick-up line was "Hey baby, you wanna do the hamstring stretch standing while I do a few hip rotations?" (I said chicks dig the uniform, not that I was good at taking advantage of it). But you know what? There are plenty of jobs that offer equal or better pay for the same skill. You can find equal benefits. Women might dig a Soldier, but the UPS guys apparently get mad trim too. However those other jobs don't come with the honor and tradition that wearing the uniform does.

To serve in the Army is to put your life into the hands of others, for the purpose of defending everything precious to everyone. It is an act of love. It is an act of love for the country. Love for your family. Love for your comrades-in-arms. The lump that forms in our throats as Taps plays over a flag-draped coffin forms because of the bond we shared with that fallen brother or sister. Whether they fell on the streets of Iraq, or quietly in their bed 60 years after their service had ended, they were someone with whom we shared a precious bond, and their passing makes us poorer for their loss, but richer for having had them with us. It's not something I'd expect you to understand Salmino.

I really do regret having had to bring this up on the main page. It's just been one of those days and I needed something to make me have a bit of a brain dump. That comment provided that "something". Thanks.


Anonymous said...

Well said. -SGT Shu

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