You've heard the slogan countless times since 2001. I've heard it countless times since 2001. At this point we say it without really thinking about what it means. I can make argument after argument about why we are all so detached from our military. Part of it is that the military makes up less than 0.5 percent of the U.S. population, so most people have no direct contact with anyone in the military (compare that to over 12 percent for WWII). That is very different from the reality of our grandparents and great-grandparents who lived during the draft. Most people were affected in some way, even if they had the good fortune not to get drafted.
When I hear people say support our troops I am annoyed for a lot of reasons. One reason is because I feel like it is more of a reflex in American culture than a heartfelt sentiment. The other reason it annoys me though is because we are NOT supporting our troops. We have become a very politically detached populace (we are not, however, detached from reality TV or celebrity culture). We don't write en masse to our representatives demanding to know what they are doing with the precious American lives we send overseas. We barely even want to know the things we do in countries when we go to war.
Supporting our troops should not mean blind support of our government's war initiatives. Besides, most Americans don't trust the government anyway. Supporting our troops should mean holding the people who send them to war accountable, constantly. Bringing our men and women home, to their families, should always be our mantra. According to the FBI, domestic terrorism is one of our biggest threats. I would also throw our crumbling infrastructure, outdated energy sources, and climate change (according to a military advisory board made up of retired admirals and generals) into the mix as well. We have a lot to work on here at home, and who better to rebuild our own country than the most well-qualified military in the world?
I support our troops to the core -- as human brothers and sisters of mine (and as a member of a military family). Would you want to send your family members to war? Do you even know what that means? Have you really thought about it? If you haven't, check out what is going on with our troops when they get back home. See the toll our endless and unnecessary wars have taken on them.
This Memorial Day, choose to support our troops. Yes, please do. Just make sure you are not simply paying lip service.
This piece was originally published on http://courtneymckinney.com.
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