American soldiers deserve our utmost respectBy Jack Kitchin | 11/01/2017 7:39pm
“Let’s not let this maybe last thing that’s held sacred in our society — a young man, young woman going out and giving his or her life for our country — let’s try to somehow keep that sacred.”
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly made this appeal to Americans as he gave a statement on Oct. 19 in response to the controversy surrounding the phone call President Donald Trump placed to the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, a U.S. soldier killed in an ambush in Niger earlier this month. A former officer in the Marine Corps and a gold star father, Kelly prefaced his plea to the American people by explaining his own experiences as a military commander and a father whose son was killed in combat.
In leading the comfortable lives that we do as college students, it is easy for us to take our lifestyles for granted. We wake up each morning and go about our daily schedules. Our worries include midterms and paper deadlines. It is not my intention to trivialize the issues that students face, as the problems that each person faces are their own. But it is rare that we, as college students and as Americans, stop to consider the men and women of the United States military that serve in order to ensure the preservation of this way of life.
Furthermore, it is difficult for us to truly appreciate the sacrifices made by our country’s men and women in uniform, as we will never have to make those sacrifices. Most Americans will never put on a uniform, serve in a unit or be placed in a combat situation. They will never watch their friends die before their eyes and be helpless to stop it.
Neither will most Americans receive word from a casualty officer that their father, mother, sister, brother or spouse was killed in combat so far from home. Most Americans will not have to bury a loved one that died fighting for our freedoms overseas. They will not receive the folded flag that shrouded their loved one’s casket.
But some Americans do. Some Americans give everything for the country that they love, and they do so voluntarily. No one told them to join the armed forces. They joined because they felt it was what they ought to do; because they felt called to serve. The dedication and bravery displayed by these men and women is extraordinary.
In the words of Chief of Staff Kelly: “They are the best one percent this country produces.” The families of those fallen heroes are left behind to Johnson and Kelly.
Reminding ourselves that others have suffered so that we may maintain our way of life is an important part of being an American. Just as those who serve made a conscious decision to make sacrifices for us, we must make the conscious decision to be appreciative of their service.
This appreciation can come in any number of ways, whether it be volunteering with the VA or at your local Veterans of Foreign Wars post, participating in charities such as the Wounded Warrior Project or simply taking the time to thank a veteran met in passing. Some Americans gave all. Giving something back is the least we can do.
The gospel of John, Chapter 15, verse 13 reads: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” No other words can better describe the men and women of our military that make the ultimate sacrifice. They deserve all of the respect and gratitude we can give them.
These men and women stand on a wall so that we might pursue life, liberty and happiness. Their deaths should not be politicized, trivialized or forgotten. The magnitude of their sacrifice is simply too great for that. Just as Kelly said, their deaths ought to be held sacred in our society, a concept that, unfortunately, seems to be fading from the minds of Americans these days.
Jack Kitchin is a sophomore majoring in political science. His column runs biweekly.