When I enlisted in the Army long ago, I just wanted to kill those “godless Communists” in Southeast Asia. It was certainly not a business proposition.
An article in ABC News last week discussed the recruitment problems of our military forces. To compete with private companies, the Pentagon is debating various options to increase enlistments. It’s the same problem facing the airlines or fast food companies? Or, is it? Maybe military service really is a mere business arrangement, like the “G.I. Bill”, like a early retirement package, like ridiculous job security, etc. I won’t fight for my country, but I will fight for my benefit package . . . huh??
Next, I went to my source for all-things-Millennial, i.e., my daughter, to ask why many young people cannot see anything beyond the business aspects of military service. While not calling me a dinosaur, which I appreciated, she said the America that I loved had died. Why love a nation that doesn’t love you, she asked? Citizens were getting more rights when I was young but losing rights today. As an educated white male, I have no concept of what America really is?
That still sounded like a business relationship to me — you know, a give/get relationship. Does heritage mean nothing? Don’t all Americans have “roots” too? Did the soldiers who have laid in the mud to die mean nothing? Is there nothing beyond a business relationship?
As I celebrate our Independence Day, I will remember an old Sergeant Major, Wilbur Childress, who was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. He told me “patriotism is its own reward.”