The official Sebastian Junger community
I wrote this last night and posted it on Facebook. Thought I'd share here as well.
Tomorrow is Veteran’s Day. A day in which we honor the men and women of the armed forces, past and present, who have sacrificed life and limb to defend our freedom and the freedom of our allies. But we also often forget that even the most fortunate service member sacrifices years of their life away from the comfort of home and family in the defense of our nation. I think it’s an important day to celebrate and remember. Yet, how many of you will let the day pass without any thought or demonstration of gratitude towards those who have served us so selflessly?
When I think of our servicemen, I am reminded of the famous Winston Churchill quote, “Never was so much owed, by so many, to so few.” Honestly, what don’t we owe them? Tonight when you go to sleep, I’m certain you will sleep well…confident in the knowledge that armed militias don’t roam the streets in search of blood. Last Tuesday, when you went to the polls (and if you didn’t, you should be ashamed for taking for granted the liberties so many have bled to preserve for you), were you intimidated, harassed, or beaten by violent partisans? For those of you who have children, did you keep your daughters at home today out of fear of reprisal or death for daring to educate a female? The last time you went to your place of worship, did you show up only to find it closed, with a notice on the door telling you that your religion has been outlawed and you now face deportation? When you discuss your political or social opinions on Facebook (or around the water cooler) do you worry that armed men will show up at your door and take you, and perhaps your family as well, to a camp or gulag to face isolation, torture and death? When criticizing the government, do you speak in hushed tones for fear someone may hear you and report you? Women, are you allowed to drive your car or leave the house even if a male family member isn’t accompanying you? Do you worry that your ethnic group will be the target of mass genocide or ethnic cleansing? More importantly, when you wake in the morning, are you confident that you will still have all the freedom and liberties you enjoy tonight?
The peace and freedom you enjoy tonight is because someone before you was willing to fight for it. Make no mistake, humans are not peaceful creatures. Though we may strive for a more peaceful existence, there are ALWAYS those who stand perched in the shadows waiting for the moment when they can attack you and strip you of your freedom. Don’t believe me? Go visit a Holocaust museum. Talk to a Rwandan. Ask a Kuwaiti. Have a chat with an Afghani woman. In this country, we take our liberty for granted every single minute of the day. But when I lived in Albania, I met Kosovars who had lived through ethnic cleansing at the hands of the Serbs. I had friends who told me the horror of standing watch each night, with a rifle in their hand, in an effort to protect their homes, their wives, their children, and even their life-stock from marauding guerillas. Do you worry about any of that? Because I dare say that if you don’t, you should thank a veteran.
We are blessed to live in the greatest nation on earth. If you didn’t think so, you would have already immigrated elsewhere. Despite the problems our country has or faces, it is still FREE! The promise of liberty is still alive in our nation and that has been delivered to us by the blood and sacrifice of our veterans. Presidents, congressmen, representatives…they talk policy, pass laws, and spend our money. But it is our veterans who liberate concentration camps, restore freedom to oppressed people, topple dictatorships, protect little girls on their way to school, stop genocide, and destroy tyrants. They do it in bitter cold and sweltering heat, the mud, the rain, the snow, for years at a time, far removed from those they love and they ask for so little in return. Perhaps tomorrow, when you are fat and happy and content in your independence, you might thank them.
God bless our veterans!