“Support our Troops“. “Freedom Isn’t Free”. We see the words on billboards and bumper stickers, T-shirts and posters. They are the tagline and headline for political speeches and patriotic memorials. But what do they really mean? What is the price for freedom and how do we support the troops sworn to defend it?
I remember as a child hearing the stories of my mother, who, as a toddler underwent surgery on her foot. For years afterward she required special orthotic shoes that had to be replaced every time her feet grew. This was during WWII and rationing was in full force. Everyone was allowed only one pair of shoes a year. Including my mother. The government didn’t make a special exception because she was a child with a medical condition. Her parents didn’t demand that she was entitled to more ration coupons because of a unique hardship. Instead they gave up their ration coupons to get her the shoes she needed and when those ran out other family members, friends and neighbors donated theirs. Why was this necessary? Because the materials that were used to make shoes over here were needed to make shoes for the troops over there. Could you imagine giving up coffee, sugar, shoes and tires and sending them to the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq? How many of us who sent “goody boxes” to the troops would have done so if it meant taking the gum, deodorant, soap and Kool-Aid out of our own cupboards to send overseas? Truly supporting our troops requires personal sacrifice. My grand parents knew that. Nobody knows that more that military families. But it is much more than that. To really support our troops we have to support the mission they were sent on.
Ever since embedded reporters brought the horrors of the Vietnam War into our living rooms, America has slowly lost its passion for freedom. Faced with the horrifying reality that the price of freedom is blood, many of us have decided that the price is too high. We would rather give up our freedom than fight and die, and to make our cowardice seem noble we buy into the negative reporting of an anti-war agenda. We believe that our military men and women are merely pawns, highly trained but brainwashed automatons sent by a corrupt government to kill babies, burn villages, exploit oil fields and humiliate Muslims. So we “support” our troops by wanting them home ….now. We think that by demanding an end to the war we show the troops we care about their lives and families and want their deaths to have meaning. But by pulling out with the job undone and the battlefields left unsecured, liked whipped dogs with our tails between our legs we send the opposite message to our troops and our enemies. We say “you have failed” and we no longer belive that anything is worth dying for.
I’m not naïve, I know that politicians have used wars to promote their personal agendas. I also know that the intense mental pressures of the battlefield can alter judgment and atrocities are committed. Yes, there are harsh and disturbing realities to war, but there are very real evils (whether ideological or personified) set to steal our dearly won freedom. To destroy our way of life. To defeat them, you can’t simply make nice, ask please and expect them to comply. There are those who choose to forget that our troops do many good things out in the field. Even in the mist of the enemy they provide medical care, aid, comfort and security.
It is time for us to truly “support our troops” and remember that every war that America has ever fought from the Revolutionary War to today, was fought for a noble purpose. Our military has fought to overthrow oppressive governments, stop slavery, stop the spread of Communism and rid the world of insane despotic tyrants. They did not fight for conquest, land or resources. The image of our country as a “big bully” to the rest of the world is a fallacious stereotype created from the malicious propaganda of our enemies. It is time for us to quit apologising for being American. To not only welcome our troops coming home, but to also remind those still serving that “you did a good job”. More importantly, “you did a good thing”. And we as a nation are proud of you.