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Richard Larsen: Veterans’ Sacrifices in Our Behalf

November 14th, 2011 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” There is no more humbling a realization than that there are others who are willing to sacrifice their comforts, and even their lives, for the preservation of mine. Nothing trumps the acknowledgement that the Lamb of God laid his down for me. But the sense of awe that results from knowing there are mere mortal men and women willing to do that for me on a daily basis comes awfully close.

Veteran’s Day morning I saw a touching picture of my nephew kissing his newborn daughter Molly goodbye as he headed off to “work.” Jim’s “work” is training Marines who have volunteered to protect us and preserve us a nation, and he was dressed in his “work clothes,” Marine greens. For one moment in time, the essence of the humanity, the love, the decency, and the compassion of our military personnel were all captured for me in a single still photo of a noble young man who served two tours in Iraq.

Thinking of him heading off to work to train those fellow Marines reminded me of a statement made once by John Stuart Mill, the English philosopher. He said, “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. A man who has nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety is a miserable creature who has no chance at being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”

What an insight, We frequently see bumper stickers affixed to cars ahead of us that naively proclaim, “War is not the answer.” Actually it depends on what the question is. If the question is, “Should we sacrifice our liberty and our freedom for the sake of peace?” the answer is indeed war, unequivocally.

The United States through its military strength has freed more people worldwide from oppression and tyranny than any other nation in the history of the world. And unlike previous world powers, or what some among us would have us believe, we don’t do it for empire building or colonial purposes. The only ground we retain after a war is enough to bury our fallen soldiers. It seems that it’s beneficial for a nation to be a battle zone for America, for not only do we extirpate the nefarious and bellicose elements in a country, but we rebuild the country and attempt to leave it in better shape than what we found it in.

There is nothing glorious in war. Would to God that it would never be necessary. However, as long as there are evil men in the world who tyrannically seek unrighteous dominion over others, war will necessarily be a part of the human experience. Regrettably, sometimes war is the answer. And we should be ever grateful for those who through the years, whether willingly or unwillingly, sacrificed for us.

We have a corps of one and a half million men and women who serve actively in our volunteer military, with an additional million or so in the reserves, many of whom have been activated over the past decade. We have an additional 23 million still living who have proudly worn our nation’s uniform in both wartime and peacetime, while fighting for our liberties, our interests, and the safety and security of countless others around the globe.

Among all who have served, the most heartrending of all, to me, is those who were conscripted or voluntarily served during the 60s and 70s in the most unpopular of our wars, and returned not to a heroes welcome, but to ignominy. It’s demoralizing to think that many of those who spat upon and hurled discreditable epithets at our returning Vietnam veterans now are politicians, academicians, Hollywood celebrities, and “respected” members of society.

Those who served in Vietnam deserve even more of our collective gratitude, since many served not of their own volition, but because of duty and a love of country. This they did rather than flee the country to escape conscription. Even more amazing is the fact that many who served in Vietnam did so voluntarily.

We have hundreds of our friends and neighbors who have answered the call to serve, to whom we are all deeply indebted. They would all say that the only real heroes are the ones who never returned home. But to us, you’re all heroes.

America and all who love freedom thank each of you who served, you and your families, for your sacrifices in our behalf. May we be worthy of your service, and do our part to protect and defend the constitution against enemies foreign and domestic, as you have done.

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