It is not just one thing.

Yes, for those who might ask, I support the troops.

Having said that, I refer to individual troops. I do not support the military industrial-complex, people whose support of the troops is self-serving, or anyone troop-related who holds that their life choice is superior to anyone else’s especially anyone who did not make that same choice they did.

I appreciate those who choose the military because it is a way to better themselves, but I am not thrilled with those who join the service so they can kill people. War is only the last resort after diplomacy fails, it is not an occupation.

I do not call everyone in the military “hero”. A hero is someone who goes above and beyond the call of duty to the benefit of others, and when in the extreme case it brings about their death. If everyone who dons a uniform is a hero even before they have done anything, then what word do we set aside for the real heroes?

When we anoint them all heroes, it is usually our way to feel good about having sent them to fight in wars from which they and others don’t really benefit, and it excuses us from any responsibility to question the war we sent them to as it is waged.  We call them Hero not for them, but for ourselves and our comfort.

I also don’t like the automatic bestowing of the title because when they fall short of that and commit some wrongful act by design or accident, we do not just hold them to that action, but we treat them as if they let us down, as if they betrayed us. Many of the very same people who complain that there is no such thing as a hate crime because a crime is a crime and regardless what the perpetrator yelled at you as he beat you to the ground yelling racial or sexual orientation slurs, all robberies are just robberies, are quick to shun a member of the service because they not only committed the wrongful act, but added to that by their betraying us.

Their crime goes beyond what they did to include the added sin of letting us down.

I am also not thrilled by those who, when describing what makes a person a true patriot, speak only of the military as if the only measure of a person’s love of country is whether or not they served with this being the only way to make the country great.

Politicians love to do this as do the uber-, but pseudo-patriots who compete to appear more than what they are.

There are many ways to be patriotic and make the country great, and many do not require guns or wars.

Those who work to help suffering citizens without the nose in the air judgments do it.

Those who fight for people’s equality even as the need for it is not their own do it

Those who volunteer to work in impoverished foreign countries and, thereby, raise the positive image of this country do it.

Those who teach children regardless of any characteristics or backgrounds do it.

Those who give of their time to make working conditions better for the working class do it.

Those who feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and help the sick do it.

And they do it without guns.

So, perhaps, instead of judging the greatness of the country on one facet, one who, besides doing the job they have chosen to do, also provide good photo ops for those who remove their benefits and are so easily used for others’ gain, we can start acknowledging there are many ways to make America the country it is capable of being.

There is not just one type of patriot, there are many.


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