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Everyday Heroes – THOSE WHO SERVE

June 10, 2014

I wrote in this blog last month about the television series titled The Pacific. Under the title Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things, I highlighted the members of the 1st Marine Division who served in the Pacific Theater during World War II. This week we’ve celebrated the 70th anniversary of the “D” Day Invasion. As a nation, we have lionized the men and women of the WW II era as The Greatest Generation. These people who were our parents and grandparents deserve all of the accolades given them. Perhaps that generation was the greatest because they all came together—warriors and civilians—to fight a great battle for freedom and the triumph of good over evil. But, unfortunately, most people, when they hear the term “The Greatest Generation,” think only about the warriors. The adulation they place on this generation of warriors has a negative side to it. It comes at the expense of the admiration and adulation that other United States generations of warriors deserve.

Shortly after the end of WW II, many U.S. citizens were assigned to fight in Korea. These men and women suffered hardships that were difficult to fathom by their fellow Americans. Our nation was tired of war and needed a much-deserved break. That’s not what the people sent to Korea received—a break. Many of those sent there had served in WW II. An assignment to Korea was a double whammy of physical and emotional hardship. It was not easy on the families they left behind.

In Vietnam, as well as in other assignments around the world, I had the privilege to serve with men and women who performed honorably, bravely, and selflessly. And they did so without the gratitude of their nation or of their fellow citizens. In fact, they were frequently denigrated by the nation and its people. But they didn’t serve with any expectation of pats on the back. They served because their country called them to serve. They served because their country needed them.

Over the last almost two decades, men and women from every part of the United States have volunteered to serve on behalf of their country in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of these individuals have been deployed multiple times to godforsaken parts of the world. They have suffered wounds, separation, illnesses, financial hardship, and emotional trauma. And many have lost their lives.

The men and women who served during the Korean War Era, the Vietnam era, and those who have served—still serve—in Iraq and Afghanistan have worked in environments dramatically different from the environment in which the warriors of WW II served. During WW II, all Americans were affected by the war. All Americans paid a price. For those who were not deployed overseas, that price was nowhere near as dear as the price paid by the Soldier, Sailor, Marine who served in a combat zone. But every man, woman, and child’s life was affected by that war.

But in Korea, Vietnam, and the Middle East conflicts, civilians have essentially been unaffected. Sure, we debate the validity of war and we realize that these wars deplete our national wealth. But that’s not sacrifice. Sacrifice is what the men and women do who go to places like Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. And as they accept these assignments they are aware that the countrymen they leave behind and for which they risk their lives are basically oblivious to what they do. These countrymen continue to shop, work, and play as though nothing has changed. That’s because, for them, nothing has changed.

It is for this reason that I admire all those who serve. I see no reason to label one generation of warriors as “The Greatest” because I see Americans of all generations as GREAT. Men and women who will serve in hellhole locations while their fellow Americans go about their lives without sacrifice are exceptional individuals.  I recently spent a week along with 150 other civilians at the U.S. Army War College, at the end of the 11-month stint served by about 350 men and women from all our military services and 77 officers from foreign nations. The American officers were all Lt. Colonels and Full Colonels, or the equivalent, and most had served at least one tour in a combat zone. Some had served as many as five tours of duty in combat zones. I came away from my week with these individuals with an enhanced level of respect and admiration for the people who serve.

It’s easy for us to become cynical about events in our country: The capital markets meltdown, financial fraud, political conflict, high unemployment, etc. Pessimism seems to confront us from every direction. But I found little of this cynicism and pessimism among the military attendees at the War College. Of course, they were concerned about military budget cuts and their ability to complete their mission of protecting the United States in light of those budget cuts and the imposition of political correctness on military policy. But despite the obstacles placed in front of them by the political class, they expressed unmitigated dedication to their individual and collective roles as defenders of the Constitution and of their fellow citizens.

While civil society seems to be in a state of perpetual flux, the men and women at the Army War College exhibited the same character, ethics, gentility, dedication, and patriotism that defined the military in prior periods of American history. I found great reason to become less cynical about our future and to become more positive about that future. The men and women of the military are national treasures and we civilians should recognize that fact and honor each and every one who serves.

I came away from my time at Carlisle Barracks in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, amazed at the extraordinary intellect, talent, and commitment of these men and women. Maybe I was incorrect when I titled my May post “Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things.” Perhaps “Extraordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things” would have been more accurate. In any case, the men and women who have served our country and who serve today are Everyday Heroes. We should all praise them as such.

For information about the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, go to this link:

http://www.carlisle.army.mil/usawc/about/aboutUs.cfm.

 


Joe writes this monthly blog to highlight Everyday Heroes whoset an example for others. If you have any stories about Everyday Heroes you would like to share with Joe, for consideration of inclusion in a future post, please send your suggestion to Joe at badalbooks@gmail.com.  To see the rest of his website, go to josephbadalbooks.com.

Joe is the author of thrillers, including “The Pythagorean Solution,” ” Shell Game,” “Evil Deeds,” “Terror Cell,” “The Nostradamus Secret,” and “The Lone Wolf Agenda.” “The Lone Wolf Agenda” was the winner in the Fiction-Mystery/Thriller category of the New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards in 2013. He has been recognized as one of the 50 Best Authors You Should Be Reading.  His short stories have appeared in the short story anthologies “Uncommon Assassins” and “Someone Wicked.”

His seventh thriller, “Ultimate Betrayal,” was released in April 2014.

Ultimate Betrayal cover

JoeBadalphoto

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. David Livingston permalink
    June 10, 2014 5:07 pm

    Very, very well said, Joe. I salute you!

  2. stevecampbellfl permalink
    June 10, 2014 6:18 pm

    Thanks for a great post Joe. It sounds like you had an inspiring week at the Army War College.

  3. June 10, 2014 8:30 pm

    As always, Joe, you tell this story beautifully, and we come away with a deeper understanding of the lives and service of our veterans and our current military volunteers. What a wonderful honor to be invited to attend the War College. You are a fantastic representative of the writing community. Thank YOU for YOUR service!

  4. Tom Avitabile permalink
    June 10, 2014 9:41 pm

    Joe you write with words right out of my heart. Not only do I thank you for your service, but for your continuing to service to our country by honoring Americans of honor. I always look forward to your blogs. Oh, and that’s a fantastic cover for your excellent book.

    • Tom Avitabile permalink
      June 10, 2014 9:43 pm

      Sorry for the typo, its late here on the east coast.

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