Remembering those who defend us

By LCDR Charles Bloomer, USN (Ret.)
web posted December 18, 1999

As we gather with our families to celebrate the Christmas season, we should take a few moments to consider the sacrifices our soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen make in order to keep our country free. Military service is a full time, 24 hour a day, 7 day a week job. The defense of our country, our freedom, our way of life takes no holidays.

As a result, on Christmas day (as on every Christmas) there will be ships at sea full of sailors who would rather be home with their families. There will be soldiers standing guard in Korea, Bosnia and other foreign places. Marines will be ready to deploy. Airmen in faraway, exotic places will keep our Air Force ready to fly. Even those who get to be home with their immediate families are often thousands of miles from other family members.

Despite the fact that many will not be able to enjoy the holidays with their families, that many will be deployed at sea or in some foreign country, these young people who defend us will not falter. Military people understand dedication. They understand the importance of what they do. They understand the freedom they protect. These men and women in uniform carry on the legacy of pride and professionalism that previous generations bequeathed them.

It is because of the selfless dedication to duty of these sailors, soldiers, marines, and airmen that we can celebrate this holiday season at peace. Yes, there are conflicts in the world. Yes, we have people engaged in those conflicts. But our homes and our families are not threatened.

Currently, there are nearly a million and a half active duty military personnel. These men and women volunteered to defend our country. None were forced or drafted. By their own choice, they embarked on an adventure they could easily have avoided. Whatever their motivations – patriotism, money, career aspirations, benefits – these Americans have chosen to dedicate a portion of their lives to doing unpleasant tasks in unusual surroundings in order to preserve our freedoms.

Much has been said lately of the growing gap between civilian and military cultures. Some analysts are afraid that that gap will lead to an arrogant, uncontrollable military. But what these analysts fail to appreciate (or choose to ignore) is that the military has remained steadfast in its commitment to traditional American ideals. Military people believe in truth, courage, hard work, sacrifice, honor, character. We should be more concerned with the lack of respect that the civilian sector has for these values.

So take a minute during this season to remember those who defend you. These men and women are our sons and daughters, our nieces and nephews, our neighbors and friends. Maybe you know one of them. If you do, you can't help but be impressed by their professionalism and dignity. If you know someone in the military, send a Christmas card and tell him or her that you appreciate what he or she is doing to keep our country free. If you don't personally know someone in uniform, send a note to the Secretary of Defense or your member of Congress and ask him to pass on your thanks to the troops.

Freedom is not free.

LCDR Bloomer is a retired Navy submarine officer who served proudly for over 27 years. He can be contacted at © 1999 Charles Bloomer

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