I was fortunate enough to catch this link on Hugh Hewitt’s site today to a terrific article by William McGurn of the Wall Street Journal, about his nephew’s acceptance at West Point.
The obvious crux is that McGurn fails to understand those who look down on his nephew’s decision to attend West Point. These critics assume that McGurn’s nephew, and similarly minded college-aged students, don’t understand the gravity of their decision, or that romanticism of war, lack of other options or poverty drive such decisions.
McGurn is right to be frustrated that many do not understand the motivations behind such sacrifices, particularly when so much of what America offers rides on the shoulders of selfless individuals such as his nephew. Throw in those attending the other service academies, those joining ROTC units and those enlisting, and America must have a lot of misinformed, romantic, poverty-stricken, low-brow youth looking for something to do.
Such as, sign up for 24/7, high-stress, structured, physically challenging, academically rigorous environment – that practically guarantees an opportunity to get killed during the first year of post–graduation employment. That is pretty much what most poor, romantic, misinformed, SAT-challenged, college-aged slackers do.
If you can’t cut the X-games, the service academies must be the next place to search for work.
There are a million reasons our youth join the services, and I couldn’t likely give their stories justice in trying to summarize them. My first ever Townhall.com column, touches on some of the reasons many might join, but the stories of those now serving will best be told by the individuals themselves and in their own time.
But I am more than happy to comment on why these decisions are misunderstood by those who diminish the value of military service.
Defense of freedom is the highest form of liberal thought.
While most liberals despise those carrying guns, those that have carried guns for this nation have preserved this extremely liberal form of government for well over two hundred years. This liberal democracy offers unparalleled opportunities and unmatched individual rights. The defense of such liberal values should be admired, not questioned.
This defense requires a near limitless number of selfless acts, a mountain of individual and family sacrifices and a necessary loss of life that instantly brings tears to the eyes of veterans who dwell on the enormity of that loss for even a fleeting instant.
The main reason this pretty simple concept is being missed by many current residents is that our nation is currently populated with the most self-absorbed, self-centered and selfish generations of all time.
Our adult population demands governmental safety nets that we don’t pay for and that we can’t afford. We have saddled our children with a national debt that will never be paid off. We insist that the government provide cushions to all of life’s bumps, while coincidentally insisting that our children and their children pay for it.
How can such a narcissistic and self-absorbed generation understand when individuals reject their lavish and consumptive behaviors for a life that requires sacrifice and selflessness?
Simply, it is not possible for them to understand that intelligent, driven and capable men and women often want more out of life than to be simple consumers of all things that democracy inherently provides. These individuals insist, on the other hand, on being those that provide opportunities for others, even if it comes with a high degree of personal risk.
We are ravenous consumers, buying our way through life with others’ money and riding on the backs of others’ sacrifices.
Today we barely recognize that selflessness and sacrifice are admirable qualities. On the other hand, we’re too busing comparing the rides of our ridiculous-looking Mercedes SUVs to that of our neighbor’s Porsche SUV.
We fail to discern that the work of a 22-year-old lieutenant in combat is slightly more valuable to our democracy than someone spending two years counting the number wild raspberry seeds contained in the dung of a Great Basin Pocket Mouse
We want it all, and we simply cannot understand it when someone wants to quit that racket for a more challenging and demanding life.
It is as simple as that.
Oh, and I guarantee that doing multi-plane intercepts at over a thousand knots of closure takes a slightly higher mental capacity and is infinitely more rewarding than counting those raspberry seeds.