I've mentioned before that I ride a commuter bus every morning. I see the same people most days, but the bus is generally very quiet while everyone reads their Kindles, looks at newspapers or phones (or in my case crochets).
There is a young man who is there every day. I've never spoken to him, and I have never heard him talk to anyone else. I know his name (at least his last name) because it's printed on the hat he wears every day. In fact, he wears the same clothes, hat, boots and carries the same backpack every day. This would sound weird except his clothes are camouflage. He is a member of the U.S. Army.
I believe he's a recruiter, but when he gets on that bus with his close cropped head, full fatigues, army boots and camouflage backpack, I can't help but feel a sense of pride. He exudes dedication and dependability. It's all right there in his uniform. I have never spoken to this man, yet I admire him.
Funny thing about admiring soldiers. Somehow people believe that to admire a soldier means you admire the current military policies and actions. On the other hand, if you don't like the current military policies or actions, some people accuse you of failing to support the troops. I don't want to debate whether recent military actions are good or not. What I do want to say is that I admire that soldier on my bus. Period. Has nothing to do one way or another with whatever military action in which he may or may not participate.
I am offended at the suggestion that the litmus test for supporting military personnel is support of a military policy. This soldier I see everyday has put his life in the hands of his country and its leaders. It's not his job to make decisions about military policy or where he will live or what he will do. He may be a recruiter this week, but next month he could be halfway across the world under fire. All he knows for sure is that he has put his life in the hands of his country and has a job to do. Does his position on the politics behind a particular military action have anything to do with his valor? No. In fact, I think a soldier who doesn't agree with the military decisions/policies yet does his job may show even more valor. He made a commitment to do a job and he follows through. That's honor.
Tomorrow I'm going to look right at him and tell him thank you. Not "I thank you because I support the policies which might send you into battle," or "I don't like you because your job represents a war I don't like." Just "thank you for your service."
I think that's all he wants to hear anyway.