God bless our troops! But what exactly does that mean?
One would think it more or less states something that does not need further explanation, but apparently it does. With Memorial Day upon us, sadly we all know that some of those in uniform will not make it back home – today, tomorrow, or ever. They will be the very ones we will be remembering next Memorial Day – our brothers, fathers, sisters, mothers, sons, daughters, friends, neighbors, the kids down the block…
While anyone who has ever seen war up close and personal can tell you that it is not a pretty picture – that it is your worst nightmare come to life in dying color, echoing in the hallways of your mind, perhaps revisiting your dreams and replaying on the screen of your memory over and over and over while you try to squelch the details of the horror that you wish you never had to see and smell and feel – some on the outside edges of war may try to use a broad brush to paint it over with wide strokes of glory.
There may well be glory – of a sort – in achieving victory in a war, yet who would not give anything or everything to rewind the tape to those pre-war days and bring back their loved ones who are no longer among us? Who would not prefer to find a wonderful working alternative to war – which would mean finding an alternative to war’s hardships, separations, deprivations, loss of limbs, loneliness, depression, pain, suffering… and the ultimate cost of one’s life? Who would really rather go through hell to get the “glory,” rather than go straight to the “glory” of achieving one’s goal minus the agony of the process of war?
Because we live in times that reflect the more than ill will of many who would force their way upon us – whether or not they ostensibly believe that their way is better or best, or that forcing their way upon us is “required” by their god or their government – we must deal with those people, those groups, those governments, those countries, in such a way as to protect the freedoms that we have come to recognize as our birthright: the freedoms that we have delineated on paper and come to practically take for granted, yet realize every day that it is no easy job to keep those freedoms that should rightfully be ours without need of force.
Sometimes men and women sign up for the armed forces to get a job knowing it will bring them a paycheck and benefits; and that is always a good thing, especially in today’s economy. Some men and women will sign up for educational benefits, or even for a “place to live,” if such should be the case. Yet there are many requirements to join the armed forces, and not just anybody is allowed to join. One must first meet the basic requirements for age, height and weight; one must show documentation for everything required, including number of dependents, pass the written exam, the physical exam, the police check and such, and then there has to be an actual “job opening” for which the applicant qualifies. Not all those who want to enlist get through that final stage.
Most of all, applicants must know that no matter what the armed forces may offer or give them, there is something very big that may be asked in return. We all wish that such an extreme price need never be extracted from those who are accepted into the military, yet it must be considered. Our armed forces exist – however unfortunately that it must be so – to defend our freedoms against all enemies of our freedoms, sometimes – yes, all too often we would agree – requiring those applicants-turned-
No one is asking or even suggesting that God be called upon to bless the killing of innocent babies, children, or families, or to bless the destruction of homes, huts or fields of grain. No one is asking or suggesting that God be corralled into being an “American God,” or a God particularly in favor of the United States of America or any particular religion. In fact, if “God” were not in favor of impartial righteousness, one could only wonder what kind of God he/she/it might be.
When anyone hears the comment, “God bless our troops,” please know that all we are saying is that we want any Powers-That-Be to keep those sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, friends and kids down the block safe from the devastation that has already befallen so very many who once were applicants for the armed services. Further, as anyone on any side of any war might also implore their god, we ask that they may come home safe and sound. That is what we ask.
God bless our troops!