Today is Veteran’s Day, the day that we supposedly celebrate those individuals who fought for our country and our freedoms. As i perused through a number of Facebook entries this morning I saw the numerous comments thanking our veterans. I too thank our veterans, but, perhaps in a different way and perhaps to different veterans.
You see, I was in high school during the Vietnam War. I grew up around protests and anti-war sentiment. Later on, while in college, I turned away from a possible Law Degree to pursue a degree in Geography and History, and then later a Master’s and even some PhD work in Political Science. I was fascinated by Political Geography (the use of geography for political gain) and delved deeply into understanding the mindsets and strategies of so-called “terrorists” and “insurgents”. I wrote papers on the Vietnam War, I learned about coups in Africa. I understood the dealings of Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Che Guevarra and others. And no, I did not sympathize. I detest violent means of getting something accomplished.
Here I am now, in 2009, while many of our country’s young men and women are fighting battles in far off places like Afghanistan and Iraq, and seeing a President receive a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to increase troops in what I personally perceive to be another Vietnam. The French fought and gained little ground in Vietnam and neither did we. In similitude, the Russians fought and gained little ground in Afghanistan, and an increase in forces there may not do us any good either.
What many are thankful for is how our young American soldiers are fighting for the freedoms and rights of others….they are NOT really protecting our country. This effort is not unnoticed by me. I am grateful for their sacrifices in trying to make this world a safer place…I know that many have died on foreign soil.
But, who REALLY protects our country? Who are the veterans that really don’t get celebrated for their sacrifices and risks as they should? Here are a few:
1. Our Firefighters – They protect us daily from fires. They risk their lives to save us. They drive speedily down a road to save a life only to be thwarted by careless selfish drivers who disregard them.
2. Our Police Forces (Police, Sheriffs, Highway Patrol, etc) – They protect us from ourselves. Like the firefighters, they are out every day protecting us from the menaces of society. They pull us over for speeding. They crack down on drug dealers. They control traffic. They intercede in domestic abuse. They fight for our daily freedoms. They work to keep peace in our country and keep us safe.
3. The National Guard – These are our people, the ones we work with every day, who sacrifice a couple of weekends a month to train so that they can protect us in our own states and regions. They assist with the big picture things – – disasters, floods, bombed buildings. They save lives, they rebuild and they sometimes lose their lives trying.
4. Nurses and medical staffs – These individuals as well protect us. They work in hostile environments to protect us and save us from disease, many at risk of catching and possibly dieing from these diseases. They fix us we get broken and are bleeding, or can’t walk, or can’t breath. They care for us in so many ways.
5. Our Border Patrol – Here is a group that really does go unnoticed. They work around the clock to keep out the intruders-the drug dealers, the illegal immigrants, those who might fly planes into buildings. Yes, on 9/11 some got through. But countless others do not. These folks really do fight for our freedom and protection.
6. Paramedics – Like the firefighters, these individuals risk their lives to save ours. They are not paid very well, but they are dedicated to make sure that those of us in emergency situations as a result of heart attack, influenza, accidental injury or otherwise, get the up front assistance we need and make it to the hospital alive.
7. Prison Guards – Another uncelebrated and under paid protector of our freedoms. These individuals work in a hostile environment every day, risking their lives to make sure the murderersm thieves, rapists and other unruly members of our society are kept separated. They risk being taken hostage, or riots within the prison walls. They try to help those who have slipped but are trying to get back into society as productive citizens. They help us have more freedom.
8. Teachers – Another class of poorly paid and seriously abused citizens of our country who dedicate themselves to guiding our youth to become decent and productive citizens. This is a tough job as many parents now use the schools as a “baby sitting service” and they don’t really support the efforts of these tireless folk we call teachers. Where the Border Patrol is the fence, the teachers are the tenders of the gardens within those fences.
I admire the daily strugglings of our youthful soldiers overseas. Many do make the ultimate sacrifice. Many serve because they have nowhere else to go. Many serve out of devotion to country and family. Though, in my opinion, they are fighting for the freedoms of others and not really for our country’s well-being, they still represent our country.
But I think we could do better by taking the massive amounts of money that we currently put towards fighting other country’s battles and pumping it into our country. Use it to pay the teachers, the prison guards, the paramedics, the border patrol, the national guard, the nurses. Use it to get jobs back. Use it to fight for our true freedom in this country. Many of us have lost the ability to control our life, liberty and pursuit of happiness as a result of mislead politicians sending our youth overseas to fight unwinnable battles that really have no bearing on the continuity of our own land and political system.
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