Thank you, American Military Service Members

Thanksgiving is a bittersweet time for our military and their family members.  Many of our service men and women will be spending their holidays deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan or other areas around the world that require a military presence and capability to be close at hand.  For some, this is not the first holiday season they have spent away from home and in harm's way. While many of us will be eating our fill of festive delights, a patrol will head out into some rubble strewn Iraqi city or inch closer to a concealed al Qaeda position deep in the mountains of Afghanistan. Thanksgiving for them will be a hurried turkey dinner in some busy mess hall or the usual ration of MRE's.

How many of us will pause to thank them?

The one thing they all share is that they volunteered for this duty.  Many of them were young and vibrant when they first got there, but they will return home much more quiet, aloof and reserved.  Packed into their months of deployment are events that will haunt them, and at the same time, strengthen and prepare them to handle anything more that life may throw their way.  Along with service to their country, they will learn that not all those whose freedoms they protect support nor even agree with their sacrifice.

Perhaps upon their return from an operation or during the preparation to begin one, their laptops and televisions will chronicle the disturbing news of a senior elected official calling for their immediate with drawl as if they had been playing some frivolous game for the last few years and now is the time to gather their toys and pack them away for the trip home.

'Damn' one of them will say after watching this televised betrayal, 'Doesn't that son of a bitch realize that my guys and I are going to be kicking in doors this afternoon? Where has he been?'

Someone will switch the channel and a neatly coiffed correspondent, who has never been among them, will be reporting on all the recent failures, screw ups and misdeeds of American troops.  Nothing will be said about the things that worked and are working...the things that a 'grunt' takes away from a violent encounter and chalks up in his mental inventory of jobs that were done right.  How many times have our warriors returned home only to be rendered speechless by the level of negative and incomplete media coverage that permeates many of America's air ways and print media.

These realities represent the dark side of fighting in a prolonged war for America these days.  A small, but vocal group among us inhabiting most mainstream media  newsrooms and occupying far too many elected positions in our government see our military's struggles not as a national sacrifice to stop an enemy driven to bring about our downfall, but rather as pawns on a global chessboard  whose purpose is to show just how evil and corrupt our country is or to be used for their personal, political gain.  How sad...how true.
Sorting all this ambivalence and conflicting messages out while trying to remain focused and attentive in a hostile environment is a pretty big order for a nineteen year old.

How many of us will pause to thank them?

Semper Fidelis,

Dave St. John

Thanksgiving is a bittersweet time for our military and their family members.  Many of our service men and women will be spending their holidays deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan or other areas around the world that require a military presence and capability to be close at hand.  For some, this is not the first holiday season they have spent away from home and in harm's way. While many of us will be eating our fill of festive delights, a patrol will head out into some rubble strewn Iraqi city or inch closer to a concealed al Qaeda position deep in the mountains of Afghanistan. Thanksgiving for them will be a hurried turkey dinner in some busy mess hall or the usual ration of MRE's.

How many of us will pause to thank them?

The one thing they all share is that they volunteered for this duty.  Many of them were young and vibrant when they first got there, but they will return home much more quiet, aloof and reserved.  Packed into their months of deployment are events that will haunt them, and at the same time, strengthen and prepare them to handle anything more that life may throw their way.  Along with service to their country, they will learn that not all those whose freedoms they protect support nor even agree with their sacrifice.

Perhaps upon their return from an operation or during the preparation to begin one, their laptops and televisions will chronicle the disturbing news of a senior elected official calling for their immediate with drawl as if they had been playing some frivolous game for the last few years and now is the time to gather their toys and pack them away for the trip home.

'Damn' one of them will say after watching this televised betrayal, 'Doesn't that son of a bitch realize that my guys and I are going to be kicking in doors this afternoon? Where has he been?'

Someone will switch the channel and a neatly coiffed correspondent, who has never been among them, will be reporting on all the recent failures, screw ups and misdeeds of American troops.  Nothing will be said about the things that worked and are working...the things that a 'grunt' takes away from a violent encounter and chalks up in his mental inventory of jobs that were done right.  How many times have our warriors returned home only to be rendered speechless by the level of negative and incomplete media coverage that permeates many of America's air ways and print media.

These realities represent the dark side of fighting in a prolonged war for America these days.  A small, but vocal group among us inhabiting most mainstream media  newsrooms and occupying far too many elected positions in our government see our military's struggles not as a national sacrifice to stop an enemy driven to bring about our downfall, but rather as pawns on a global chessboard  whose purpose is to show just how evil and corrupt our country is or to be used for their personal, political gain.  How sad...how true.
Sorting all this ambivalence and conflicting messages out while trying to remain focused and attentive in a hostile environment is a pretty big order for a nineteen year old.

How many of us will pause to thank them?

Semper Fidelis,

Dave St. John