Tuesday, March 25, 2008

On cowardice

I speak with military retirees often. Sometimes it’s a very pleasant experience. Like today.

Calling on a completely unrelated note, a pleasant lady began to tell me about how much she appreciates our fine servicemembers and their service. She laments the fact that her husband, a Vietnam veteran, didn’t get the same kind of reception our current troops get. She, like many other veterans and their family members, is working hard to ensure our troops today don’t get the cold shoulder our fighting forces have in the past.

She then went into a bit of a tirade about folks today who protest our troops. Folks who run away from military service. She mentioned folks who in her time ran to Canada to avoid the draft. And she asked a question, rhetorical though it may be, that made me think. She asked, what makes a person do that? What kind of a person turns their back on their country like that?

Honestly, I believe that person is a coward.

Say what you want about not agreeing with a war, or disagreeing with the government or even being a conscientious objector, if you run away from your duty as a citizen of this country you are a base coward. I understand religious objections to taking another life, but guess what? Two of our nations greatest heroes were conscientious objectors (Desmond T. Doss and Thomas W. Bennett). Those were men who feared taking another man’s life, but not losing their own. In fact, they so valued life that they put their own on the line to protect their fellow man. See if any Berkeley protestor is willing to do something like that. No, they are into protest chic.

What our society has done is bred a culture of fear. We have made it OK to shy away from civic duty if we’re too scared to serve because someone out there will do it for us. But you know what this mentality is breeding? Not only a vast group of cowards who have never had to really take a stand (and, by virtue of that, don’t know how to take a stand), but also culture where cowardice has become an admired trait. I don’t mean turning the other cheek, I mean running away from confrontation in the first place.

It is after speaking with the retirees and family members of veterans who make it a point to tell me how much they appreciate our troops that I feel charged, more than ever, to ensure my children don’t grow up to be pussies.

I realize that I am, in part responsible for the outcome of our nation, and I will do my part to ensure that my children are ready to take the guidon when it’s time.

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