While checking up on the daily news on the Internet about the United States’ involvement (in Iraq), I become glued to most everything that is going on, while trying to avoid all the distractions (the ads, alternative subjects, etc.). Being a veteran of a past war era (which was much more unpopular than this one is) I still try to identify with what our current U.S. service people are going through now while trying not to become spoiled by all the conveniences I have enjoyed in civilian life. Quite timely, I read an article written last week in The Detroit News (my former hometown paper – the Outlook/Media Section -) which took the “words out of my mouth” from what I had been thinking.
The editorial page editor in his article stated that our (meaning our country’s military) daily involvement overseas should demand more sacrifice from those still on the home front. He stressed how easy it normally would be to live in our comfort zone – become distracted about our favorite sports team and in entertainment – while on the other side of the world there are people putting their lives on the line.
When I came out of the service there was still anti-war sentiment around, though most people extended a “welcome back home” to me. Many young people like myself distrusted the government and its drafting people into the service and sending them to where they didn’t want to go. But I had a friendly and not-so-rude awakening one day when a young male college student approached me with, “Man, you served your country! I’m just a student – but your served.” Taken aback, and after a moment of silence, I said , “Look, if you want to ‘serve your country,’ just be a decent citizen. Don’t litter, try to help out when you can, volunteer for a worthy cause or try to make something better (than what it is); do these instead, and you will (still) be serving your country.”
I think, from my own experience, from what the college student was saying (at that time) and from what this editor now is saying, that we shouldn’t become so indulged with all the distractions – the sports heroes, the rap stars, those who write and/or make movies, are not necessarily the ones who are out on the front lines or “serving our country,” – these should not take priority in our daily lives while we are still safe and enjoying life on the home front.
Custodian, Physical Plant, Simpson College