I did not choose to serve in the Armed Forces. I want to thank those who risked their lives so I didn't have to; those who risked their lives to protect my right NOT to serve.
During the 1980 Presidential election, I was 12 years old and understandably not into politics. I do remember that Ronald Reagan was being portrayed as a warmonger who would lead us to a nuclear war with the Soviets - not particulary a comforting thought to a pre-teen. I also remember that in March of 1986 (the month I turned 18) Reagan had ordered maneuvers past Mohammar Qadaffi's "Line of Death" bay off of Libya. In April, after the US bombed Tripoli and Qadaffi was neutralized, I learned that sometimes military force is needed. I also learned about international terrorism. And I learned that I wasn't one to stamp it out.
Subsequant to my 18th birthday when I chose not to serve, there was very little war and therefore very few military combat deaths until the Gulf War in 1991 (when I was 25). Although to this day I wish 41 would have finished the job, victory was quick and decisive, again with very little loss of American life.
So as I enter this blog entry today, I can reflect on those that covered me, in other words, those that chose to join the service to do the job that I felt needed to be done. I sincerely thank those men and women.
Just as importantly, I thank the men and women that preceded my 18th birthday by serving in World War II, Korea, Viet Nam, and anywhere else little skirmishes arose. (Side note - On Veteren's Day only, I suspend the ongoing discussion with my family that I was in a Viet Cong interrnment camp in Da Nang, and that Granmammy Evans got me through it by giving me Alton's Macaroni & Cheese recipe).
I also want to let the Veterens know - especially the ones that have served in Afghansitan and Iraq over the past five years - that regardless of what the Barack Obama administration will do in those countries (as well as possibly in Iran, Syria, Pakistan, Venezuela and Columbia) your service will not be in vain.
I am fearful of what Obama will do in the foreign affairs arena. But regardless of the direction he takes (and who knows, he could be brilliant) it was the soldiers that fought for me, my rights, my freedom, my country, and my flag that made it possible for him to be President, and for me to oppose him.
From the soldiers that are now in the August of their years that served in Europe and Japan in the 1940s, to the ones in Korea and Viet Nam that were there to halt the spread of communism and protect American interests, to the current troops fighting not against countries, but against religious ideology. Even if you served but never went to war, the fact is that you were there - prepared to go - if your country needed you. All of you should be thanked respectfully and continuously.
I will talk with my son, Mitten, and stepson, Grizzly about possible service when they hit 18 in a couple of years. If they choose not to serve, that is fine and I can't complain - I made that same decision. But if they do choose serve, they too will do a great honor to their country and will be deserving of the thanks of a nation.