Respect for our troops should not be controversial

Respect for our troops should not be controversial

“Why do you like them so much?” Lieutenant Sam Weinberg asks of Lieutenant Commander Joanne Galloway in Rob Reiner’s 1992 film, A Few Good Men. Galloway replies, “Because they stand on a wall and say, ‘Nothing's going to hurt you tonight, not on my watch.’”  

The two are discussing the brave men and women of our country’s military.  In my previous column, I discussed the respect that our veterans and troops currently in uniform deserve. Many might view the article as uncontroversial. After all, who would openly show disrespect for our service members? Unfortunately, there are those who would do such a thing, and I had the distinct displeasure of hearing a story of such people this week.  

My younger sister is thirteen-years-old and in the eighth grade. In honor of Veteran’s Day this past week, she and her classmates wrote cards for American soldiers stationed overseas.  Friday of last week, my sister came upon one of her friends crying in the hallway. Her friend’s uncle is a combat veteran and her brother is currently serving in the armed forces.

My sister asked her friend what had upset her, and her friend explained. Evidently, two boys had told this girl that they had every right to burn the American flag, that her brother’s service was worthless, and that they told him and other service members as much in the cards they made to be sent overseas. 

The actions of these boys are the very reason I felt so compelled to write my previous column and to write on the topic again this week. Though it may seem as though respect for our service members is universal, it most certainly is not.  

These boys felt such contempt for the men and women in uniform that they felt justified to confront the family member of such a serviceman and taunt her about not caring for the courage her brother shows on a day to day basis. That’s without mentioning the lack of understanding shown towards a girl who must miss her brother terribly and worries everyday over whether he will return safely home.  

Those boys are only thirteen-years-old.  At such a young age, they are learning lessons in vile behavior. And make no mistake, they are being taught this sort of behavior. They are looking up to the adults around them, news on television, and social media accounts. These sources are feeding them the garbage they are then repeating to the loving family remembers of our military. 

Such conduct is appalling and should never be condoned amongst Americans. The men and women who volunteer to place their lives on the line so that we may enjoy the freedoms we do every day are the very best people produced by our country.  If you do not possess the courage to put on the uniform, then you have no right to open you mouth in disrespect of those who do.  

Winston Churchill once said “We sleep safely at night because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us.”  Whether they are willing to acknowledge it or even understand it, Americans are able to live the lives they do thanks to the courage of the men and women of the United States Military. Freedom is no fairytale. It is a delicate matter and, as President Reagan said, must be fought for, protected, and handed down to each generation.  

Our military serves as the backbone of this preservation of freedom. As such, our service members and their families deserve our utmost respect and gratitude. Anything less than this is unacceptable. As Americans, we must be a source of support for our military and stop spreading a message of hostility towards our armed forces and educate our young people on their vitality to the American experiment. Perhaps then our young people will see these brave people for the heroes they really are. They stand on a wall. Let’s stand with them.  

Jack Kitchin is a sophomore majoring in political science. His column runs biweekly. 

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