Dear Mr. Twentysomething at the Starbucks…
**Originally Posted on Facebook**
You probably didn’t notice me, but I certainly noticed you. As I was preparing to vacate the table I had been sitting at for the past hour and a half, I heard you say something that made my blood boil and my heart hurt in equal measures.
“I think the military is a bunch of cowards.”
You said this so casually while you were talking to your friend, and you also said it while standing right behind me. You probably were trying to be quiet but when I looked at the counter and saw the extremely kind Navy veteran who served me my coffee, she looked like she heard you too, and as much as it angered me to hear you say that, it made me even more angry to see the effect it had on her. I was in a hurry so I didn’t call you on it in person, but I need to get this out of my system before I get even more angry.
You, in your khaki pants and blue sweater, holding your Mercedes keys in your hand, have a fair amount of nerve. While you live in the land of fancy cars and expensive clothes, these people are wearing camp and combat boots, sacrificing time with their families and so much more, are fighting for your freedom. While you’re living in your McManison and probably going to some Ivy League school that, while doing wonders for your resume, does no favors for lessening your level of ignorance, these men and women are shipping out to God knows where for God knows how long to fight for your right to call them cowards, and. and even though they know better, they will never call you on it. It’s not who they are. Personally, I think that the barista behind the counter getting ready to serve you, the very person who just insinuated she was a coward, has more courage in her left pinky than you do in your whole body. Making those sacrifices day in and day out for less money than what I made working at Whole Foods is not an easy decision, but it is one that millions of Americans since our founding have made and been proud of. I know it’s hard for you to actually dig deep and see them as people. For you to say what you said, out loud, where people can hear you, is an indication of that. The language you chose is another indicator that you really just can’t see past the guns to the people holding them. You can’t see past the missiles to the people firing them. The analogies are endless, really. In all reality, you can’t see past your own opinion to the truth of the matter.
That truth is this: we have a Constitution. That Constitution guarantees you a variety of rights. That Constitution also has enemies. A lot of them. Name any terrorist group, any nation not on our list of allies (Russia, Iran, Syria etc.) and even people in our own country who don’t like what it is and what it stands for. Because we have enemies, we have need for a military. Here’s the crazy thing: we have a volunteer service. We haven’t seen a draft come up since the Vietnam era, and no one is forcing any of our service men and women to join up. They’re consciously making the decision to do what they do, and they are proud of it. Your ignorance doesn’t change that. It doesn’t change the fact that sacrifices are being made on your behalf everyday by people you will never even meet. It doesn’t change the fact that even though you may not approve of it, they are the only thing that stands between us and the complete destruction of our nation. And it certainly doesn’t change the fact that we have enemies that they fight against for us on a day in and day out basis.
So, Mr. Mercedes, please understand this: I care about our soldiers and veterans. More than you ever will, or so it seems. My family has a legacy of service to this nation that I seek to honor every single day by living my life the best way that I can. For generations, our soldiers and veterans have answered the call, and sadly, not everyone has appreciated their sacrifices.
Understand that not everyone in our generation has this skewed perspective. There are some of us left who really understand the importance of our military.
So, as a response to your misinformed, narrow minded. and insensitive comment, I say this:
To our soldiers and veterans, who have put their lives on hold and on the line so that America may continue to enjoy the freedoms we have possessed for generations, thank you for your service. I mean this sincerely. I’m not just saying it because I feel obligated to or because it’s the “right thing to say.” From the bottom of my heart, I say thank you. Thank you for choosing to spend months and sometimes years away from your families so that I can enjoy my freedom. Thank you for risking your lives so that America can continue to be the shining light in our dark world. And thank you for doing it for me and every other American, even the ones who don’t appreciate it. Your service is honorable, brave, and the exact opposite of cowardly.