America needs to reconnect with its military

But, what if you don’t want your son or daughter to join the military? Or, what if you decide that the military is not what you want to do? You have my blessing. All I ask is that you ask yourself why you are willing to let someone else’s sons or daughters fight and die to protect you, your nation and the nation’s interests. When Matt enlisted, a few friends and acquaintances asked me how I felt about sacrificing my son. I replied by stating that I was not sacrificing my son, but that I was supporting his informed decision, a decision that he made as an adult. He had other options in life. He received excellent advice from two veterans: a grandfather who served in the U.S. Army during World War II and a grandfather who served in the U.S. Army during the Cold War. He knew exactly what he was doing. I will not deny the tragedy faced by the families of the more than 4,500 Americans who have died during the Iraq War. But let me be frank: According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2009 (the latest statistics I could find) nearly 11,000 people in the U.S. died from alcohol-related accidents while driving. Nobody ever asks me about sacrificing my son when I loan him the keys to my truck. Americans need to get a better perspective on military service. Somebody else will always make the choice to serve, and in a nation that has no draft I can confidently say that the vast majority of the men and women who do serve are there because of their loyalty to one another and their love of the United States. One of the most admirable and selfless acts I know of us is when my son re-enlisted while in Iraq during a war when a motivated enemy held a dedicated interest in killing him. “I deployed because if I didn’t someone else would have to,” Matthew once succinctly told me. You see, there is more at stake than losing our wars. Our military is part of us as a vibrant nation that cares enough to defend what it represents. We are part of them, and it takes more than an easily uttered “Thank you for your service” to maintain that connection. That is why the phrase is called “popular support.” We cannot continue this disconnect between the small percentage of Americans who wear the uniform and the overwhelming majority who have an adoring cluelessness about those who serve. If we do, we will lose even more of what unifies us as a people and a nation.