Having a father and brother in the military leaves a special place in my heart for veterans. I am glad to live in a country with so much respect for people who give away so much of their lives for the defense of the nation. The military is a symbol of America’s strength and commitment to excellence – without a strong military, we fail to project our power in the world.
But extreme military power must also be coupled with extreme wisdom. What makes our servicemen so special is the fact they must surrender their autonomy to the federal government, and by proxy, to the American people. Our decisions directly affect their lives in a profound way. Irresponsible policy decisions will lead to death and suffering for our soldiers and the countless people who love and support them. It is the responsibility of the military to defend the nation, but it is the responsibility of every citizen to maintain a keen awareness of the policymakers who influence what is done with the military.
This fact is apparent to me as I reflect on the many years of my childhood my father missed during his career. The Iraq war made him absent from those precious years of my life, and as we all know, time is an irrecoverable resource. To know that the Iraq War, the central conflict responsible for his absence, was based on lies told by elected officials is deeply disturbing to me. I was lucky enough that my dad got to come home safely. Many other families were not as fortunate.
Now, with my beloved brother serving in the US Air Force, I am ever-conscious of the decisions I am making as a voting citizen. Whomever I vote for to govern this country has a direct influence on whether or not he is in harm’s way. We are both empowered and bound by each other’s influence – him for defense of our nation, and me for ensuring the government utilizes him effectively and responsibly.
Keep this in mind on this Veterans Day, and be sure to thank all of our great servicemen and women who sacrifice so much for our great country.