Earn your freedom

Veteran’s Day is right around the corner.


You know it as a day off; for some, it means much more.


As a disabled military veteran, I spent most of my adult life working under a different set of rules and values than the ones I find myself navigating through now that I am a civilian again.


I still hold to these values, because my experience has proven to me time and time again that I’m clearly doing something right.


These values do not represent politics, or a social fad.


They represent necessity–the key to all life.


See, vets come from a place where if you don’t do what is necessary, people die.


The problem is, they have come back to a country filled with people that look at them like they are insane when they mention things like self-reliance, self-discipline, attention to detail, sense of urgency, head on a swivel…


Out here, we can’t even get people to look up from their phones long enough to cross the street safely.


But a veteran is is looked at like jerk because they will roll down the window and say “Hey, idiot. Pay attention.”


You consider it an insult, but what it is really, is an appeal to common sense.


Believe it or not, there was a time when honesty and accuracy were more important that political correctness, but we’ve turned into a nation of pansies that are more in touch with their feelings than they are with their senses.


Translation: You’ve traded in the truth so the truth can’t be pointed back at you.


Because the truth hurts.


The standards are different, and we now live in a land where the lowest common denominator is suddenly the highest standard we can muster.


When veterans leave their families and homes to go and fight, they take stock of what they are leaving behind–what they’re fighting to preserve, to return home to.


Now, many veterans are back in this country, observing what their efforts have purchased.


For a veteran, it’s like being the only human left in a world filled with zombies.


It’s as if standards of excellence are being lowered across the board, and maybe some vets just don’t understand how that can be.


“You’re so mean. You have no patience. You should be nicer.”


To who? To you?


They have stood in the freezing rain to meet the bodies of their fallen brethren as they come home for the last time.


You can’t even pull your pants up past the stains in your nasty underwear.


Veterans have taken and returned fire to ensure your ability to pass high school with a fifth grade reading level because emoticons are faster than spelling.


What have you done to feel you’ve earned the right to judge their high standards?


They are not your standards, clearly. However, veterans have just as much right to live by their own expectations as you do.


Veterans say what they mean, and mean what they say. Veterans rarely “accidently” ruffled someone’s feathers. If your feathers are ruffled, it’s because they ruffled them. Purposely.


I see now that they have been fighting for your freedom to be a wart on the face of our nation. They were fighting to provide you the freedom to be a slacker… inadvertently culpable for your contentment at being some of the dumbest, laziest people of any generation since they started keeping records. Socially, most of you are inept at even the most basic customs and courtesies.


What happened to you people? How did you get so stupid and self-centered? How did you go from being the next generation of mathematicians, scientists and world leaders to being the laughing stock of the planet?


You open your country to criminals while you let the men and women who protected you starve in silence, afraid to say something for fear of being labeled “another crazy veteran.”


I realize that you are a product of the “No Child Left Behind” mentality, but before you assume that veterans are just bitter old soldiers who look for opportunities to be antisocial, consider this:


Veterans are a product of the “No one gets left behind” mentality.


So maybe this Veteran’s Day, instead of walking up to a stranger and thanking him or her for their service, you should try a new approach.


In the immortal words of Tom Hanks’ Capt. John H. Miller in the World War II film Saving Private Ryan:


“Earn this.”

Editor-in-chief Fall 2012


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