A few days ago a friend sent me an article that has tremendous merit and needs to be shared with everyone. This article has to do with the miniscule number of our citizens who serve, or have served, in the military.
The article begins, “I remember the day I found out I got into West Point. My mom actually showed up in the hallway of my high school and wanted to get me out of class. She was bawling her eyes out and apologizing that she had opened up my admission letter. She was not crying because it had been my dream to go there. She was crying because she knew how hard I had worked to get in, how much I wanted to attend, and how much I wanted to be an infantry officer. I was going to get that opportunity.
“That same day, two of my teachers took me aside and essentially told me the following: ‘Nick, you’re a smart guy. You don’t have to join the military. You should go to college instead.’ Here is Nick’s response: I could easily write a tome defending West Point and the military as I did that day, explaining that USMA is an elite institution, and that statistically it is much harder to enlist in the military than to get admitted to college, that serving the nation is a challenge that all able-bodied men should consider for a host of reasons, but I won’t.
“What I will say is that when a 16-year-old-kid is being told that attending West Point is going to be bad for his future, then there is a dangerous disconnect in America, and entirely too many Americans have no idea what kind of burdens our military is bearing. Here are some important statistics to keep in mind: In World War II, 11.2 percent of our nation served four years, the length of time our nation was at war. In Vietnam, 4.3 percent served in 12 years. Since 2001, only 0.45 percent of our population has served in the Global War on Terror.
“These are unbelievable statistics. Over time, fewer and fewer people have shouldered more and more of the burden, and it is only getting worse. Our troops were sent to war in Iraq by a Congress consisting of 10 percent veterans and only one person having a child in the military. Taxes did not increase to pay for the war. War bonds were not sold. Gas was not regulated. In fact, the average citizen was asked to sacrifice nothing, and has sacrificed nothing unless they have chosen to out of the goodness of their hearts. The only people who have sacrificed are veterans and their families; the volunteers who swore an oath to defend this nation.
“You stand there, deployment after deployment, and fight on. You’ve lost relationships, spent years of your lives in extreme conditions, years apart from kids you’ll never get back, and beaten your body in a way that even professional athletes don’t understand. Then you come home to a nation that doesn’t understand. They don’t understand suffering. They don’t understand sacrifice. They don’t understand why we fight for them. They don’t understand that bad people exist. They look at you like you are a machine — like something is wrong with you. You are the misguided one — not them.
“When you get out, you sit in the college classrooms with political science teachers that discount your opinions because YOU WERE THERE and can’t understand the macro issues they gathered from books, because of your bias. But you do it anyway. You do what the greatest men and women have done since 1775 — YOU SERVED. Just that decision alone makes you part of an elite group.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)