Fight for America
Returning war veterans have baffled and, at times, been a headache to politicians since the days of Alexander. The conflict between speaker and soldier is an enduring one—young people doing the bidding, whether it be well or ill-intentioned, of their elders, only to come home and be relegated to second-class citizenship.
Even in our own short history, American veterans have physically clashed with the very people who sent them to clash with others.
At the height of the Great Depression, thousands of WWI veterans converged on the National Mall to demand benefits promised to them for their service over a decade prior. These men, known as The Bonus Army, were responsible for ending the costliest war in human history, and when they demanded reimbursement (that, again, was promised to them) for their service they were met with teargas and batons. Mini-riots ensued, bigger names got involved, and a movement for veterans’ rights grew—which was a considerably new concept at the time.
Most of us are aware of the shameful treatment of Vietnam veterans during the 60s and 70s. They were unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of hatred for a war that continues to polarize Americans. They were spit on, called unrepeatable names, and bore the brunt of blame for an unpopular war—as if they had all been at the Gulf of Tonkin themselves. People continue to view that generation as broken, overlooking the fact that the majority of them were instrumental in a vast amount of economic growth in the 80s and 90s. Google men like Fred Smith and Bob Parsons and you’ll see how America would be a completely different place if it wasn’t for the ingenuity bred in the Vietnam War.
Now new generations of American war veterans are making their way home in a polarized society. These are men and women who, like their predecessors, come from every conceivable background and, like their predecessors, are close to being marginalized by a society that understands little about them, what they’ve accomplished, and the great things they’ve done and are capable of doing. The media and Hollywood portrays them as drug-addled, broken and prone to unprovoked violence. Obviously, like the aforementioned generations, statistics prove these depictions wrong.
I could cite numerous examples of American veterans getting trampled on by the Federal Government. But the point I’d like to make is that, no matter what, where, why and when, our Nation’s vets have continued to serve their people once they have taken off their uniforms. The reason why is very simple: They love their country.
That’s why they joined the military in the first place. You can’t stop loving your land just because you’re back in the private sector. You’ll always have that deep, inner drive to give back. We’ve seen that in organizations like Team Rubicon and Team Red, White & Blue—groups of veterans physically giving back to their communities. They pick up the slack when the Feds are incapable of performing—which, let’s face it, is often. Their contribution is organic and authentic.
I have a friend who is a municipal police officer in a mid-sized West Texas city. I served with this man in the military and have maintained a close friendship with him since then. He’s a fiercely independent person who, like many of us, has grown weary of the Federal Government’s encroachment into our lives. He’s tired of seeing politicians bicker while things fall apart. He puts his life and reputation on the line everyday—dealing with extremely violent Cartel members, cop-hating gang members, drunken oil heirs who have never worked a day in their lives and could easily lodge a fraudulent complaint against him, etc—to make his community a safer place to live.
He does this while people ignorantly clump him, a city beat cop, into the same category as people in DC who legislate our liberties away, simply because he wears a uniform that denotes authority—a local one at that. Yet he continues to serve. He truly believes that he is making his community a better place.
This friend is no different than the thousands of other veterans who have donned a uniform at one point or another. He has to give back. It’s ingrained in him. Squabbling about what to do is not good enough… We must show up and do it ourselves.