These days there are few who are not directly related to or at least know someone who is directly related to a serviceman or woman. According to a September 6, 2007 Department of Defense report, the United States has military installments in over 25 countries throughout the world, totaling more than 280 bases. This does not include “temporary” war-time deployments sites.
I believe it is important that our children understand the debt we owe our military men and women. Our government has not imposed a military draft since 1973. Our existing military forces are made entirely of those who volunteered their services to the varying branches of the military. Yes, they do get paid for their services; however, there are few jobs in American that contain the potential risk that these individuals willingly take on in their line of work. If it were not for these individuals and many others that came before them, our country would not be the nation it is today.
Regardless of any complaints you may have about our nation, can you honestly think of another one in which you would choose to live? The freedoms we enjoy here came at a heavy price and it is a price that some are still willing to pay if and when necessary. There are countries in this world where religious practices are discouraged and/or where only a government sanctioned religion is supported. There are countries where men and women are imprisoned or sentenced to death for speaking an opinion that differs from their government. There are countries where specific classes of citizens, be they women or a minority ethnic group, are severely discriminated against with prison or even death under the blessings of the government. There are countries where the average per capita income is about 1/10 that of the majority of the American population. There are countries where our poverty level would be celebrated. We complain loudly about our government, our marketplaces, our financial systems, our schools, our medical care and our social systems. Instead of complaining, we should remind ourselves that we have the ability to change our government if we are not satisfied, by voting our government representatives into or out of office as we see fit. We have a free marketplace where all are encouraged to participate. We can make a difference in our society and our lives limited solely upon how much effort we are willing to put into the process. We have an expansive medical system that includes major research facilities constantly working on new treatments and searching for cures. If we choose to sit back and allow others to rule the nation for us, that is also our choice. We have a free press which we can use to voice our complaints, our suggestions, and our hopes.
All of these freedoms were won with the blood and sweat of our service men and women and are maintained by the blood and sweat of our service men and women.
I personally know of two young men who are currently going through basic training, one in the Army and one in the Air Force. I am very proud of them for the contributions they are willing to make to the greatness of our nation. I have a good friend who is currently stationed in South Korea. I am grateful to him for his willingness to serve our country. He is stationed overseas without his family in an area that remains in constant discord. I have friends whose sons, nephews, and husbands are stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq where they know little of what to expect from day to day when it comes to the plans of insurgents in those regions.
We should be thankful for the efforts of our military men and women throughout the year, but at this time of Thanksgiving, I hope that every family will say a special thanks to those who are serving in our military branches, both overseas and state-side. May they be blessed with many blessings and may we always remember their sacrifices that enable us to live freely.