Saturday, May 26, 2007

Memorial Day, 2007

There are many jobs that fall under the category of "thankless" these days. We have parents, teachers, civil servants, all out there, every day, doing ordinary things that make life extraordinary. But we seldom acknowledge the value that's brought to our lives as a result of their efforts. We don't, however, seem to miss a single opportunity to come at them with a wave of criticism should they, as human beings are quite often likely to do, make some mistake or bad decision. But, they toil on, day after day, doing what needs to be done.

It's Memorial Day Weekend and it calls something to mind. The most obvious "thankless job" to me these days, has to be that of an American Soldier. The War has become an intensely political issue, an opportunity for people to spend a lot of time using the conflict to further their own agendas and ambitions. The very makeup of our next political wave could be decided almost singlehandedly on this issue.

We spend countless hours engaged in idol worship to those whose sole claim to fame has been their right to enjoy artistic freedom. We plaster our magazine covers with photos and stories of people who thrive in an environment provided by the efforts of those who fight with their lives to protect that very freedom.

We have probably an unprecedented access to media which seems to provide endless coverage of our celebrities, and our politicians, yet the proportion of coverage given to those who are defending our rights to carry on seems way out of balance. News coverage of the events in Iraq extends just long enough to provide casualty counts, and we seldom spend time seeing exactly what these people are facing on a day-to-day basis.

Think a minute about that kid who served you at the counter today. There's every chance that the kid standing there could, in a short time, be sitting in a foxhole somewhere, engaged in the fight of his or her life.

And what do they see as far as expressions of gratitude? I'm sure that many of them see the internal strife this war is causing here. A prominent television personality recently raised the question as to whether or not we Americans are the true terrorists in this conflict. Imagine how some 20 year old kid, fresh off the field of battle, would feel about that question.

The talking points are in place, without a doubt. And political debate is part of what made this country great. But we have to start thinking about leveling the playing field. We have to do better with our expressions of opinion. These soldiers don't get the opportunity to question their marching orders. They are simply given a job to do, and are expected to perform that job to the best of their ability. If it
were ever possible to give 110%, these soldiers are likely to be the ones to do it.

When we're exercising our freedom of speech, we might do well to start remembering that in this world, there's a good chance that our words can be heard around the world. And part of that world includes those on whose backs that freedom has been carried. And we might be wise to remember to extend our hands in gratitude to these soldiers.


  1. This was awesome jimmy. You need to send it to the paper (however I doubt they would print such a beautiful piece of work that actually congratulates our soldiers). I'm pretty sure our troops believe in what they are doing and do so because they love this country. I try and thank God every day for our service men and women and the work they do.

  2. Yup...I agree with Kristen. That could surely be bought by a newspaper. Well done!



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