This post will make some of you upset. It's okay. Despite how most of our society handles itself online, we're able to disagree about things.
Last week, my family and I were at two separate events where veterans were asked to stand and be recognized. Neither of these events was associated with the military or any veteran's group. Neither activity was associated with any civic observance of a military anniversary. Neither activity recognized members of any other vocation group. At each of them, the vets and service members who stood were met with applause and cheers for their service. At each of them, I remained seated. At each of them, my family was mystified by my lack of participation.
This sort of recognition makes me cringe. I think it is dreadful, and I wish it would stop.
This kind of acknowledgment wrongly elevates the military vocation while inadvertently disparaging others. There is nothing more noble or honorable about the military occupation than there is about that of teaching, nursing, farming, truck driving, parenting, or the like. For Christians, it should be apparent that each of these is God-ordained means of loving and providing for one's neighbor. As the solider provides security, the teacher provides education, the nurse provides health care, the farmer provides food, the driver provides goods, etc. The love and provisions of a parent are limitless, without compare to all other vocations. When carried out faithfully, individuals in each of these roles must die to self in order to provide service due their neighbors. This is no more true for the solider than it is anyone else.
While we are tempted to think of the military as a much more dangerous occupation where one's life is routinely on the line, statistics do not bear this out. Commercial loggers and fishermen, to name two, are much more likely to give their lives serving than is anyone in the military. When was the last time you were at an event where the crowd was whipped up into a frenzy to thank loggers, whose service enabled you to live in a nicely-framed house? I can't remember either.
I am proud to still be serving in our Air Force after over 24 years. I am proud of my brothers and sisters in arms who have chosen to stand alongside me in defending our nation and way of life. I am glad we have Veteran's Day and Memorial Day to honor those who have served and those who have died while serving. I am glad we kick off many civic events with the National Anthem. However, as a veteran, until we are content to honor parents more than one day a year and other vocations at all, I'm going to keep my seat. I don't deserve recognition and thanks any more than you do. As you faithfully carry out your labors day to day, you are serving God and neighbor as much as those in uniform. Thanks for your service.
Photo by Osman Rana on Unsplash