KADENA AIR BASE, Japan --
society often has a preoccupation of raising up people to mythical levels. We
equate various groups of people with elevated morals, increased intelligence
and a naïve belief that those people are infallible from bad decisions.
no further than the public condemnation of your favorite actor or athlete when
a personal struggle or a criminal offense is made public. Over the last
generation, Americans have put our service members into that category. They are
labeled as the “best of America,” millions of people have some form of “support
our troops” paraphernalia and we are treated to television shows and movies
dedicated to military virtues.
society has tried to turn every man or woman who joins a branch of the Armed
Forces as superheroes who magically only make the perfect, and perfectly
courageous, decisions required of them.
society has arguments about whether the actions of some honor or offend our
troops, often without stopping to ask our troops what they think. They have
become a monolith to be used to further a cause, whether political, charitable or
The American people have turned well over a million men and women
into a faceless group that is exploited for their service.
those people are missing is the phenomenal nature of our individual service
members. They are not faceless, nor a monolith nor a bloc of people who believe
one thing. They are men and women, they are every ethnicity and creed who live
in America, they are Republicans and Democrats, only out of uniform, of course,
they are Christians, Muslims, Jews, atheists and so much more.
are single and they are married. Some have babies, some have “fur babies” and
others have neither. Our service
members, the men and women of every military branch, represent our entire
country in all its glory.
easy to forget the United States is rare among the world as there is no ethnic
group of “Americans.” We have gained our strength through our diversity. It’s
not a mistake that America has grown stronger the more inclusive we have
have been given the opportunity to serve in a deployed environment. I serve
with Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen. I serve with Special Forces members
and conventional forces members. Together, we are working hard to enable the
fight against terrorists and extremists where they are, rather than at home.
here has really made clear what eight years as an Air Force civilian already
taught me: our men and women in uniform are regular people. Some joined for
honor and a patriotic duty. Some joined for education. Others joined because they had no other
prospects and the military offered three meals and a paycheck. Some even joined because a judge gave them the
option of prison or service, but they all serve. They are not free from errors
in judgement or terrible decisions. Those on Okinawa have seen that all too
well. They are inherently fallible
because they are merely human.
however, is their strength. The military is a collection of “regular people”
who pull together to form something greater. They work toward a common purpose
with a shared bond born of service, sacrifice and a decision to join something
bigger than themselves.
they are Special Forces on the front lines, transportation specialists,
maintainers, pilots or submariners, they are working to create a world better
than they found it. Some will see combat their entire careers and others will
never be within hundreds of miles of enemy soldiers, but they all build a
military that is the most powerful and effective fighting force in the history
of the world.
service members are not faceless. They are not clones or carbon copies to fill
a billet. Though their uniforms suggest blending into one, their stories and
the backgrounds have created unique individuals who put on those uniforms.
holiday season, when people say they are thankful for our troops, please take
the extra minute to recognize the men and women behind those uniforms.
They are the reason
we live in the land of the free.