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Most Americans don’t spend enough time thinking—and thanking—the men and women of our fighting forces. Whether or not you agree with our troops’ various missions, we owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude for their service. While all members of our armed services deserve respect and recognition, I’ve decided to serve TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia regular reminders of the men and women who carry guns on our behalf. In some cases, I’ll be able to name the soldiers. In others not. I challenge you to name the weapons and comment on their capabilities.

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  1. the men and women who carry guns on our behalf.

    They carry guns on the behalf of the federal government which works unceasingly towards our own enslavement and the enslavement of the entire world. For that we owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude? What am I supposed to thank them for? The huge expense, the tremendous loss of life and limb, the gains in power by the government that is my mortal foe, or the kickbacks and profiteering that I don’t get to partake in?

    “War is a racket” – Major General Smedley Butler, USMC. Our troops are victims, not heroes, they deserve our sympathy not our gratitude.

  2. Back in the day when the allies were leveling Hitler’s karma, an American soldier’s job was to kill the enemy and hand out Hershey Bars to kids. Now a soldier is an engineer, social worker, diplomat, mediator, mentor and who-knows-what. Bless ’em all, because I don’t know how they do it.

  3. I might grind a few gears on this one, and am risking taking a lot of heat by saying it, but I’m going to be honest. Who knows, maybe someone will change my mind about it. While I certainly respect the people who comprise the greatest military on the planet and know it’s a tough and dangerous job, part of me does feel a little “hmm” (for lack of a better summation) when I am asked to “go out of my way” (for lack of a better summation) to thank them more, etc.

    Why does part of me feel this way? Because for around the last, oh, 10 or so years, the majority of servicemen and women I’ve known have told me straight-out they are in the military for selfish reasons. Be it the sign-up bonus, to learning skills to get a job later, to getting college paid for, etc. Obviously, a person can be both patriotic and courageous and things and also do it for the money, but rarely have I asked someone in the past years why they joined and then get answered with some variation of “to serve my country.” The main answer is usually about getting college paid for.

    • My brother-in-law served in the Navy and he did exceptionally well. He worked with people just as committed as he was and he worked with total slackers.

      It’s a mixed bag, like anything where humans are involved, there are all types of people.

    • When I joined the Air Force, it was for one of the selfish reasons you stated above. But my priorities changed significantly one I was about a year into it. I saw the same thing happen to a lot of airmen. We all got a lot more serious about our mission after the first year or two.

      Spending four years in the military had a profoundly positive effect on my personal values, on how I interact with others and on how I view the world around me. I would not be the same person without that military service. I believe that many veterans have had a similar experience. Don’t write someone off just because of why they say they’re in the military.

      The mission of our country’s military has always been the same and that is to protect the property and interests of the ruling elite who own and control our country. The more one comes to understand this, the more difficult it is to suggest to young men and women the military as a short term enlistment or a career.

      Remember though that regardless of why someone wears the uniform, they are making huge sacrifices that the rest of us aren’t aware of. Poor pay, tremendous restrictions on personal freedoms, long long hours in a job probably three quarters of them didn’t want, the list is endless. For that they deserve our unwavering support and heartfelt thanks. The military, even with all the other people always around you, can be the loneliest place on earth.

    • I joined because I wanted to blow shit up — no lie — and I was then and still remain as patriotic as ten choruses of The Star Spangled Banner. I don’t know that it makes any difference why today’s soldiers have enlisted, especially since, in retrospect, their reasons seem a lot more sound than mine. What I do know is that damn few soldiers fight for their country. They fight to save their own asses and the asses of their buddies, and they fight because they’re told to fight. That’s good enough for me.

      • I have met dozens upon dozens of men and women who have served in all branches of the military, and they all deserve our respect for the service that these brave people have provided to our country. I don’t care if they wanted a free college education or bonus, because they risked their lives for us and many of them will return home crippled for life or in a bodybag. Many if not most of these soldiers either know someone who was killed or crippled during the war and they will live with a lot of horrible memories for the rest of their lives. These brave men and women are true heroes and they deserve our gratitude and respect because they don’t want or need our sympathy.

    • I joined the Army National Guard 5 years ago at 29. I have a 6 figure job, a Masters degree already paid for, and I cannot think of a year that I have made money (college or otherwise) on my service after you account for all the expenses and time away from work. I did it solely because I am a technology geek and I wanted to make sure that the Soldiers executing this Country’s wishes had the best support that I could possibly give (which I have proven to my Commanders and Soldiers). I just couldn’t stand by and not try to participate.

    • The benefits you list may well attract folks to the military, but how many people do you think would serve without incentive? American society appears to prefer a military manned by those who volunteer, not those who are voluntold. Reliance on pure altruism and blind patriotism will only get us so far when no one in society is obligated to look out for anyone else. Post-Vietnam American society has chosen carrots over sticks when it comes to building its military. While the present alternative might seem mercenary to some, I submit that a standing military comprised exclusively of “true believers” is not the sort of thing that is in the best interest of a democracy.

      Furthermore, if the benefits seem problematic, I suggest looking at the situation this way:

      The end result of any military training is ultimately related to combat effectiveness. Military personnel are trained to perform their jobs under stress conditions that few civilians can comprehend, much less routinely experience. They are also indoctrinated – some might say institutionalized – into a rather arcane counterculture, which in turn creates a philosophical, social, and sometimes political barrier between them and the rest of American society. Programs like the GI Bill are absolutely vital in the effort to retrain veterans in civilian careers so they may lead successful post-military lives, and, just as importantly, to reindoctrinate them into regular society. It is most certainly not in society’s best interest to have a bunch of vets lacking trades or higher education trying to find their own way back into the society they were sworn to protect, while simultaneously feeling profoundly alienated from that society. Military service isn’t simply a Get-Out-of-Student-Loans-Free card, as any tour of duty carries with it the implicit risk of violent death or injury. These benefits actually represent dreams deferred, and the sad reality is that the only benefit some live to collect is their right to be buried in a national cemetery or a lifetime of medical care. Even those who make it through their service relatively unscathed frequently struggle with reintegration.

      As for being slightly put out at being prodded to go out of your way to sincerely thank someone who served (regardless of motive when they enlisted), I have to ask – is it really going to kill you? In the grand scheme of things, that person has signed up to give (at least) four years of their life with next to no control (relative to the civilian world) over where they live, what they eat, how much they see their families, how safe their working environment is, or even whether or not they even survive performing their job. There are likely a few out there, but I don’t personally know any veterans who demand gratitude, regardless of the era in which they served. The pressure for giving that gratitude comes from a society which has effectively outsourced the responsibility for its own protection. Relatively few in society have direct knowledge of the sacrifices, large and small, military service requires. American society’s collective inability to empathize really only leaves one other alternative in the way of positive recognition.

  4. “…all members of our armed services…” I’m sure this soldier deserves to be honored but that’s not a US uniform or a US firearm. The first photo in the linked series shows a red kangaroo on the uniform, maybe a big hint. I’m retired navy and appreciate anyone who chooses the military life without weighing their motives.

  5. Meh. I got a paycheck for doing a job and was paid for playing with fun toys in interesting places and never having to decide what color shirt to wear on any given day. Neither sympathy nor a smarmy “thank you for your service” is necessary.

    And for darned sure the worship needs to stop. THAT way lies fascism.

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