Mention the word hero and the mind conjures up a vast array of images. Those images might range from fictitious comic book characters, to larger than life sports celebrities, to the notorious rich and famous, to the great philosophical thinkers of this century. However, the truest heroes live by the Biblical mantra, “Greater love hath no man than this; that a man lay down his life for his friend.” The American men and women who voluntarily serve our country in the armed forces go primarily unrewarded and unrecognized; yet they continue to heroically dedicate and sometimes sacrifice their lives for the sake of others.
The rewards for military service are miniscule. Enlisted military members with zero to ten years of service may expect to earn $1546.83 to $4885.11 monthly. Officers with zero to ten years earn $2934.30 to $11485.80. Although the higher end of the pay scale is respectable for both enlisted members and officers, it pales in comparison to many non-military careers.
Along with unrewarding pay, military members often endure wartime protests from civilians. Granted, public opinion in 2015 is vastly different than it was during the Vietnam era, but how often have military personnel been bombarded with cruel jeers from crowds opposed to war? The irony is that without the military who would defend the free speech rights of the protestors?
Most military members are unknown to the general public. Their names and faces are covered in anonymity. Dr. James Dobson writes, “. . .it is a shame that, as a nation, our attention is routinely fixated on Paris Hilton’s jail time or Britney Spears’ underwear – while in Iraq and elsewhere some of America’s best and brightest are paying the ultimate price to keep us safe. . .” Does the name Nat Adams mean anything to us? He saved George H.W. Bush’s life during WWII. Mr. Adams was a humble man who never discussed his courageous defense of a famous comrade. He was simply fulfilling the oath that he took.
Our men and women continue to serve honorably despite great personal sacrifice. One of my brothers-in-law retired as a Master Sergeant in the US Army. During his career, he deployed to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait during the first Gulf War, and Iraq the second Gulf War, four deployments total. Additionally, he served two tours to South Korea. Although he had degenerative hip condition that would have allowed him to remain stateside rather than deploy multiple times to Iraq, he believed in what he was doing, and went anyhow. He has three daughters and his military service literally caused him to miss 6 or 7 years of their lives while he was deployed. He never complained, he simply continued to perform his duties to the best of his ability, regardless of the cost.
Though trends show a decline in enlistment, men and women enlisting today do so with the utmost certainty that they will be called upon to deploy to a war zone. Former president, George W. Bush applauded our brave and heroic service members. In an address to the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention in 2007 he said, “There is one group of people who understand the stakes, understand as well as any expert, anybody in America – those are the men and women in uniform. Through nearly six years of war, they have performed magnificently. Day after day, hour after hour, they keep the pressure on the enemy that would do our citizens harm. . .” He is right. For who would know better what is at stake than the men and women who live it?
Having grown up with a military father, been a military spouse and lived in a military community I have witnessed both the joys and the sorrows endured by service members and their families. There seems no better time than Veterans Day to express gratitude to our American military; ordinary, unknown, often forgotten, but heroes all the same.
Until Next Time,
Becky J Miller