Whenever I hear someone say to a uniformed serviceman, “Thank you for your service,” I want to walk up to that person, punch him in the chest and say to him, “You acknowledge that service to your nation is valuable, so don’t think him for doing it, go sign up at the recruiting office yourself.”
When we went into the service we did not think that we were doing anything noble, or anything for which we should be covered with glory and given thanks. We were doing what was expected of us. That expectation was embodied in the “Selective Service Act,” the draft. Everyone made himself available for military service and the military “selected” as many as it needed at any given time. If you were able to do so you served. If you did not serve you had to provide a reason. Some of those reasons were thin, but at least the expectation was that service to your nation was required.
This nation provides a great many rights and privileges. Do you really think those are free? We did not. Our parents, not 1% of our families and not some remote ancestors, our parents died in great numbers on the fields in Europe and in the Pacific to preserve them for us. We knew that someone had to work and pay for those things and we accepted that it was our turn.
Increasingly, the American citizen of today does not feel any sense of responsibility for the preservation of these rights and privileges; not in military service or even to the extent of paying taxes. Conservatives think
no one should pay taxes and liberals think that taxes should be paid by “others,” the rich and corporations, but not by “us.”
It’s not ideology, it’s the times. Republican George H. W. Bush, despite his “read my lips” pledge, recognized that the nation needed more money and so he raised taxes. Democrat Bill Clinton recognized that the nation needed more money and so he raised taxes. Barack Obama recognizes that the nation needs more money and so he makes speeches about how we must protect the American people from the horror of having their taxes raised.
If the people of this nation, not government, the people do not stand up to their responsibility we will lose what we have. We are not paying for it, neither in cash or in sweat equity, and there is no free lunch.