I grew up in a military town. My dad was a retired war veteran (r.i.p.). My best friend Mario, who just got married a couple weeks ago, served in Iraq and is currently home in the Army Reserves. As a dude who has had enlisted men and women around him his whole life, I can tell you something that is easy to forget:
Soldiers are made of the same stuff the rest of us are. The men and women in our armed forces are trained and chiseled, but they are not indestructible. They aren't superhuman. They're not some genetically-bred race of cyborg fighting machines. They are humans with all the same weaknesses, flaws and fears we have.
The only difference is these humans chose to serve. In America, service in the military is voluntary. It's a choice. Soldiers and their families make the sacrifice to help protect our country, often at great cost to themselves. Even when they don't agree with the politics (and believe me... many of them don't!), they serve. I don't often find myself in support of constant wars that seem to needlessly destroy lives and property that remain devastated long after the memory of what the fight was about has faded. Still, I respect the contribution of the soldiers who put themselves in harm's way, who face the physical, mental and moral danger that makes it possible for me to sit in relative safety, ruminating, drawing, and typing.
So, it's Veteran's Day today. A good time to reflect on and give thanks for that sacrifice. A time to recognize those who have put on a uniform to serve our country. Sometimes, we in America take it to the level of hero worship. I don't think many troops are looking for that, so I don't go there. Our soldiers are not gods, or aliens, or superhumans. They are just people who, for whatever reason, have chosen to serve.
And for that, I give thanks.
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