I was talking with a friend about military service this weekend. Memorial Day is a day set aside to remember the sacrifice some of our armed service members have made. I was very rebellious as a teen, and I did not understand the importance and service that military families provide for us all. It is a service of sacrifice for a greater community. Many people who enlist and many people who reap the benefits of others sacrifice do not understand military service. I can safely say that I did not understand it until after I became a husband and father.
If you have ever seen the movie Starship Troopers, I challenge you to read the book by Robert Heinlein. It is far superior to the movie, and it was banned in some localities for some of the controversial politics and ideology in the novel. One of the ideas in the book is that only former soldiers can attain citizenship (voting privileges and political offices) since they join a completely volunteer military service demonstrating their understanding that social responsibility requires being prepared to make individual sacrifice for their society. Heinlein’s definition of social responsibility was world shaking to me. I read the book back in the late 1990s after seeing the movie. I read it because I was rereading Ender’s Game on break at work, and a guy walking by stopped to ask if I had read Midshipman’s Hope or Starship Troopers. I picked them both up. I re-read Starship Troopers sometime after 9/11 and finally understood Heinlein’s definition of social responsibility.
Big and Rich have a song, The 8th of November, which details the sacrifice of the 173rd Airborne Brigade. We have heard about the sacrifices of famous soldiers like Pat Tillman, and read Where Men Win Glory (a controversial book by Jon Krakauer). There are many others that we have not heard about. Even though I may not know their names, their families, or their histories, I can now understand their sacrifice. They made their individual sacrifice, because they believed that their family, fellow soldier, even a stranger was an important member of society and should be protected.
Heinlein explains through his characters later in the novel that military service is not the only kind of service for the society, but it is the most common in the book. I challenge you. Before lighting the grill, drinking a beer, or opening your pool, find a way to serve someone. It is the best memorial for those who have sacrificed for us all.