"I've always been amazed that the very people forced to live in the worst parts of town, go to the worst schools, and who have it the hardest are always the first to step up, to defend us. They serve so that we don't have to. They offer to give up their lives so that we can be free. It is remarkably their gift to us. And all they ask for in return is that we never send them into harm's way unless it is absolutely necessary." - Michael Moore, Farenheit 9/11To those who came before us, and secured the blessings of liberty and peace to our nation, and to those who right now fight a war that divides this country, thank you.
I've always been struck by the fact that we delineate summer with two celebrations of the people who created this nation: the soldiers and the laborers. Somewhere in the middle, we honor those whose thoughts and philosophies and courage went about giving the initial shove into the pool of world affairs, but that we honor the citizens of this nation as bookended holidays for the sumemr season is remarkable. I'm not aware of any other nation (perhaps the old Soviet Union) where the common man has meant so much to so many.
My dad was a soldier, albeit not in the US Army. He was a laborer as well. I respect and honor both of those parts of his life. I was a laborer, too, in my youth, but never a soldier, per se.
It's interesting to me that we spend so much time paying lip service to these two aspects of the human existence-- the warrior and the laborer-- but in truth, we take both for granted except in the breach. We tell each other, "Support the troops!", but sit quietly by as they come home, ravaged and torn asunder by watching their fellow man die. We say we respect hard work, you know, the Protestant work ethic and all, but we don't take care of our workers, we don't provide for them, we force them to pay for their own health insurance and raise their taxes as we lower it on those whose hands have no callouses. And then we shun unions.
So on Monday, I will find a veteran, at least one, and thank him for making me free, despite the best efforts of a government which would rather see us not so free. Or as Orwell put it:
"The war is waged by the ruling group against its own subjects and its object is not the victory over either Eurasia or East Asia but to keep the very structure of society intact."