In Service to God and Country
I am an American Fighting Man. I serve in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.
I learned those words as a Basic Cadet at the Air Force Academy some 40 years ago. They're hard to forget. There are other words, too, that are equally hard to forget - words such as those found in the beginning of every Oath taken by those becoming members of the military, whether for the first time, or for the tenth:
I ... ... do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same;
Commitment. Not to the government, or the President, or to a political party, or to killing, or to empire, or to any other thing other than the Constitution of the United States, and the people and way of life that it represents. For many of us, it's a lifetime commitment.
A large percentage of us are also people of strong faith. The God-given rights of liberty, freedom, and individual dignity expressed in our Declaration of Independence, and protected and defended ever since, including the right to worship (or not) who we please, as we please, and where we please, makes this nation something special, something worth defending to the death.
Most of us know that freedom isn't the "natural state of being" in the world: freedom must be fought for and defended. The Tree of Liberty has always been an endangered species, requiring constant watch and careful nurturing. It can't be done haphazardly, but only through careful thought, military might, and personal commitment. Military service is just that - a service to our nation, to defend it, to honor it, and to keep it filled with the fruits of liberty.
Our colleges and universities today are filled with people who reject that belief out of hand. They consider military servicemembers "scum", and don't have a clue how the military is the major player in allowing them to insult their protectors so freely. We are called "baby killers", "intellectual morons", "murderers", and many other less repeatable names. We have been spit upon, physically attacked, and verbally abused. College students are being constantly bombarded with anti-military propaganda, agitated to resist anything proposed by or for the military, and encouraged not to join. Yet their freedom to say these things, to do these things, is only ensured by those they refer to so derogatorily.
Students that have friends, husbands, wives, brothers or sisters, or even parents who currently serve, or who have retired, remain silent, lest they draw down the wrath of the anti-military crowd. THEIR freedom is being suppressed not by the military or the government, but by those that rage against it.
A very good friend of mine, Tom Hunter, is a retired Army NCO and former Airborne. He agrees that the purpose of the military is "to kill people and break things". Even so, he knows that killing and breaking things are only done to support and defend the Constitution. That's one reason we have civilian leadership over the military - to ensure that military force is only used to "achieve national objectives" set by the President, and approved by Congress. Whatever killing members of the military do is done under rigid controls established by law and stringently enforced. We've seen that in the number of well-publicized cases where legal action has been taken against those that exceeded the authority delegated to them. There is no wanton killing, no uncontrolled destruction. Everything done has a purpose, every act is done for a reason.
God plays a very large part in maintaining the physical discipline and mental well-being of our military forces. The military encourages church attendance, and provides spiritual leadership through the Chaplaincy program. Strength, honor, mercy, self-discipline, and obedience is trained into every member of the military, reinforced by the words of whatever God the individual military member recognizes. Worship is never forced, but strongly encouraged. Individual faith is recognized and honored. Faith provides a foundation that keeps us going when things get nasty. It provides forgiveness for the brutality we are sometimes called upon to exhibit. It provides solace for the loss of our brothers in uniform, and a sense of security for our loved ones, whether with us or thousands of miles away.
The military services are not filled with heartless, brutal murderers, but with well-trained men filled with honor, pride, faith, and humility, united together for one purpose - to protect the people of our nation, to protect the founding principles that led to our Constitution, and to guard against those who would do us harm. No matter how we serve, or where, or in what uniform, we recognize these truths, and commit ourselves totally to them, even unto death. Rather than demean those in uniform, people should look upon them with pride and honor for the thankless, sometimes brutal, and always dangerous job they do - to keep us all free.