By Kevin Flynn
The feeling of this day has changed since 9/11.
During the Cold War, a much larger segment of society experienced military service. There was a shared point of reference after Vietnam was lost. Economist Milton Friedman argued for an all-volunteer force in his famous book, Capitalism and Freedom, and surprisingly to many, his view became law.
Since that time the professionalized armed forces has served well with precision and valor in conflicts like the Gulf War, Bosnia and Afghanistan. Unfortunately, this success has come at a price of being detached from those that sacrifice for our freedom.
As Churchill said so many years ago, “never have so many owed so much to so few.” Less than 1% of the US population serves. Contrast this with nations with mandatory service, like Israel or Norway where almost everyone serves.
Young people that signed up during the past decade faced almost certain deployments to combat zones. This is a remarkable thing considering that service is not mandatory and that even in a bad economy there are student loans available for most people. What they face and must deal with is truly remarkable.
I think a good link to this is a video interview with Sebastian Junger who spent a great deal of time with a platoon in a combat zone in Afghanistan.
“A good soldier is one who follows his training very closely, but has enough independence of thought to react to complex situations that aren’t covered by his training”that’s able to coordinate his actions with everyone else and is not afraid of getting shot. A bad soldier is one who lets his fear overcome him, shuts down psychologically and can’t take in information from the guys around him or from the situation, forgets his training, and eventually slips into a kind of individual survival mode at the expense of the safety of the group.”
In macro terms, these troops face danger for the safety of society as a whole. And for that they should be honored on Veterans Day.
I think on Veterans Day it would be nice to go to a parade and clap for the troops. On the other hand, why not do something more substantial. There is a great organization that supports veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan known as IAVA (Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
You can sign up to support these troops by visiting iavaonline.org/form