Today we are going to pay lip service to honoring a class of American that is one of the most abused, glorified, misunderstood, ignored, and "celebrated" groups ever to earn a classification. These are the guys and gals who raised their hands, swore to defend the constitution of the United States of America, against ALL enemies, foreign and DOMESTIC, and survived that promise, not always in one piece or of sound mental condition.
No, not all of them necessarily took that oath out of patriotism or by choice. Many, if not most, embarked upon that great adventure with visions of heroism, of wearing the white hat and taking on the bad guys, of coming home to the adoring swoons of the girls they went to high school with who might now give them a second glance, now that they had proven their manhood. Most if not all of them went with the barest shades of possibility on their minds that they might return with missing limbs or not at all. The young are invincible, and only cold, stark reality can ever prove them wrong.
These men and women saved our collective bacon more than once, over the span of decades that promised to teach us lessons we refuse to learn. The wars to end all wars didn't, and short of a major alteration in the nature of man, never will. We are an aggressive species, and we thrive on banging the drum and proving dominance one way or another, up to and including the utter extinction of our enemies. These men and women did not participate in sterile wars where everybody obeyed the rules and no one bled when shot. These men and women witnessed and participating in things we do not talk about. We cannot talk about. We are, after all, civilized.
During the worst of this situation many of us still refer to as a war, the Pentagon bragged about how easily they were filling their ranks with fresh, eager, patriotic bodies. Today I am hearing how the recruiters are having to lower their standards drastically in order to fill these uniforms, even allowing the enlistment of those with felony criminal records. I'd be surprised if the lack of a high school education is considered much of a barrier to enlistment these days. It doesn't take an associates in science degree to get ripped apart by an IED.
Go tell the Spartans that the mighty have fallen. Go tell those who love us that now more than ever we need their love. Go tell those who once feared and respected us that for eight years, we lost our collective mind. And go tell a veteran you're sorry for the sacrifice you required him/her to make so that you could stuff your SUV with junk from China, where we will be sending them next to die for another really good cause.