Sunday, May 25, 2014

Thank You For Your Service

New Bern, NC

A blog reader commented on my recent post about the air show. He said:
Those pics of kids with the guns is very disturbing. I know we did the same as kids with toy guns, playing army and cops and robbers, but to have the soldiers there with the actual weapons for the kids to play with is wrong. Parents and the Marines are in bad form here.
I think he’s wrong. Here’s why.

I surmise that the reader’s feelings are the result of the debate about gun rights and gun culture in the USA, plus news of horrific shooting deaths. He and I and you may or may not agree on that. But the military is a special case that should not get confounded by the larger debate.

Our country always had needed warriors and always will. People who serve in the military, and their families sacrifice greatly for the benefit of the country. It also seems true that the burden of military service falls selectively on a small minority of our families with a strong military tradition. In those families, generation after generation serve their country. The rest of us get all the benefits, but share none of the burden beyond paying taxes.

It is part of these families’ tradition to recruit their children to be tomorrow’s soldiers. It is likely that the children at the air show are disproportionately members of military families. If the love of weapons leads to gun accidents, then these same families are disproportionately the victims of those accidents. It is part of their sacrifice.

It is wrong to call what they do wrong. The only appropriate response, including recruitment of children, is “Thank You For Your Service.


  1. I totally agree with you on this , Dick. As a veteran, I saw first hand the sacrifices many of our soldiers make. That was a time when we had a draft and I can't imagine what it takes to staff a fully volunteer military. This is one of the recruitment tools and there are others such as the Blue Angels etc. Anytime I see the Blue Angels I want to go back in the Navy!! Unfortunately many want to cut funding for these recruitment tools.

  2. You surmised wrong. My feeling on this had nothing to do with the current debate on guns. I would want my kids to understand the effect that weapon has on a human being and that it should be used in defense and as a last resort. I want them to respect life, not to fantasize about taking one. Recruiting children in my opinion is obscene. I would think the military would have a little more class and concentrate their efforts on someone not as impressionable. In your writing you make it appear that I would not support troops because of a surmised position on gun control or that because I find their allowing kids to play with their weapons a low class idea. The opposite is true.
    When I was a kid in the 60's I was fascinated by the military and all their fantastic weaponry including aircraft. Everyone said I was born to be in the air. I was In the civil air patrol and a regular little rat at the Niagara falls air national guard base.
    Vietnam changed me. I watched my friends brothers and cousins go off to a war with no meaning. It was all about killing. Anyone with a brain knew we were not there to stop the spread of communism. We were feeding the war machine. All those kids killed…for what? Since then I have not been able to embrace the military and what it stands for today. We are an empire that attacks unprovoked (Iraq) and sends drones to blow up wedding parties in Pakistan . Collateral damage used to matter, so did torture. I have total respect for the men and women who defend our nation but I also feel for them and their families when they are getting killed and wounded for oil and riches. Give me a good fight and I'll fight alongside them, but to kill and be killed for Cheney’s Halliburton makes no sense.
    Kids should be celebrating scientific achievement not war. I want them to watch an atlas rocket launch not a grenade launcher. As we get older we learn to appreciate life and it's fragile existence with every year. To take another life should be something we agonize over even in self defense not something to glorify. A child is too young to be recruited. Recruit them when they are old enough to decide for themselves whether or not the military is right for them.
    When I was a kid the air shows had a low profile military presence. The focus was on the planes. I was never "recruited" or allowed to play with weaponry. If I had been, my parents would have had a few choice words for that soldier. My generation has witnessed many pointless wars, and we tend to not be wrapped up in the flag singing yankee doodle dandy at every opportunity, but that doesn't mean we do not love our country and we would not hesitate to give our lives to defend it, but sometimes the USA is wrong, and rightfully hated. Some folks just can't see this through all that red white and blue.

  3. Perhaps, having had her say, Latitude 43 can say a prayer for the fallen and extend her thanks to those of us fortunate survivors on this Memorial day.

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  5. How do we feel when we see weapons in the hands of children of our enemies? Are they indoctrinating their children to kill or be killed because of the evil US?

    In my idealistic world we teach our children to respect life and also show them some of the issues that have resulted in wars. We educate and nurture them with the hope that we solve things without wars. Let them make their decisions when they are a bit more mature.

    It is honorable to remember those who lost their lives. I feel we should also take a day to work for peace and honor those who have done so. For our own good we must do better as citizens and as a Nation.


  6. Hey Latitude 43 you should lay off the kool aid...the predominate organization indoctrinating our children is the school system and they are teaching them to think like you...not a good thing.

    1. Sorry, don't respond to anyone who is hiding behind anonymous

    2. The irony. Right there! Or is your name really Latitude 43? Just a different "Anonymous" Ken

  7. "sometimes the USA is wrong, and rightfully hated" that is the cup half empty. The cup half full is "sometimes the USA is right and loved." No person, no country needs to be right 100% of the time to be moral. They need to aspire to be right and moral.

    The military and military families are not responsible for the decisions of politicians. However, the soldiers should be given credit for the wars that we didn't have, i.e. wars prevented wars deterred.

    More important, anger and bitterness about politicians should not be allowed to seem like ingratitude towards those who served in the military. We should have learned that lesson after the disgraceful treatment of soldiers returning from Viet Nam.

    I don't think any of us thinks that we should have no soldiers at all. Where should they come from if not today's children?

    1. Where did I write anything that looked like ingratitude towards the troops. Everyone knows they are not to blame for the actions of their politicians or their generals(politicians in uniform). I guess I'm trying to figure out where you find that I am blaming soldiers for anything other than allowing children to play with guns. I don't see it. I guess you are too worked up over someone who actually has an opinion different from yours and you can't see what I wrote. So be it.

      "The cup half full is "sometimes the USA is right and loved." No person, no country needs to be right 100% of the time to be moral. They need to aspire to be right and moral."

      After invading a country for the first time in our history as a nation and killing an estimated 1 million Iraqi civilians, then finding no weapons of mass destruction, followed by torture, and prison without trial, and all this at a cost of 3 trillion dollars of taxpayer money and then not initiating a tax increase to pay for it, I would say our moral compass has been smashed. It's people who are critical of gov't and who lend their voice to change that are the true patriots. I wrote my congressman about the defunding of the VA and the mess that it's caused and the push to privatize it for profit by wall st. I said I expected to hear his opinion on the matter and let him know my disappointment. Thats what I did for memorial day. I guess I missed the parade.

      Yes, we need soldiers, but it does not start with recruiting elementary age kids. Never heard anything so ridiculous.

      Vietnam was a costly mistake and you should do some research regarding soldiers treatment after that war. Why would war protesters spit on soldiers when one of their most popular chants were "“Stop the war in Vietnam, bring the boys home.” ?You heard that at every peace rally in America. “Bring the boys home.” That was the message. I'll give you a link so you can start your research.

      Dick you should really not allow anonymous posters on your blog. I probably don't have to explain all the reasons why.

    2. If anonymous posters weren't allowed then we wouldn't have had to listen to your ramblings. Latitude 43 is just as anonymous as the word anonymous.. Put your name on your post! As a veteran of Viet Nam I have to say that as Dick stated, we have to think that some of these wars have prevented other conflicts from happening although the politicians allowed us to become bogged down in that one. Have you served in the military? Take a look at the situation in the Ukraine. Multiply that by 100 and think what the world would be like today if we didn't have a strong deterrent. As far as the kids, we played war all the time when we were kids using toy wooden rifles. Of all my friends from childhood, we all turned out fairly successful and yes almost all served in the military. I don't think these displays are going to turn them all into murders. Proper parenting and role models are the keys there!!

  8. Give us a brake. Send Latitude 43 to longitude 180.


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