Today is the Army's Birthday. Part of being a soldier is carrying the torch of tradition given to you so that you can pass it on to others as they join the Big Green Machine.
Last year I was less than five hours out of my dress blues from the Army Ball when I got the phone call that a VBIED had killed two of our soldiers and wounded several others. This year I'm in Afghanistan.
While I am not an idealist about military service, I do believe that those of us who make the choice to serve can only do so with the traditional values of "duty, honor, and country" if nothing more than to satisfy our own moral and legal obligation to the contract we signed.
Gentlemen, Duty is doing what is expected of you. Honor is conducting yourself in a right and moral manner in all things. Country, well, I don't know what that really means to me right now. My country is very different from when I signed on in 97, and while I still love my country I'm not sure if my service is of any real benefit to her.
Ever wonder why the US Military continually ranks so high in Public Trust? It isn't because we are different people than Congressmen or Senators (who are just as human as anybody else from all medical reports), it is because we are the same as the people of the United States. The vast majority of the Legislative body is a bunch of lawyers creating work for other lawyers. The vast majority of the US Military is now a caste of warriors along family lines. Less than 20% of us now serving came from a family that didn't have an immediate family member also serving.
I worry about that some. Some say that our Military represents the very best of America, but I have no idea if that is true. But I will continue to do my best, if nothing more because I gave my word that I would do so. And if personal accountability and dedication are the only things I can pass on when I leave the Big Green Machine, I think that I will be fine with that.