“Find a reason to serve your country” Duluth News Tribune, 23 Nov 2008.

I’m stuck in a country in the Middle East waiting for a plane ride to my final destination. There’s a huge awning that covers a communal area near my tent. I sat there today and watched the diverse parade of my fellow servicemen and women coming and going. Either they’re really young or I’m getting old on my hat trick trip to Operation Iraq Freedom. I always wonder why these young people volunteer. There hasn’t been a draft since 1973.

On the 2nd of November, the 148th Fighter Wing held a deployment ceremony at the DECC. During the ceremony Mr. Dennis Padora and Mr. Pete Prudhomme gave our unit a Patriot Guard Riders flag signed by Governor Pawlenty. I have it with me here so I can bring it airborne with me on a flight over Iraq. The Patriot Guard Riders go to the funerals of servicemembers as invited guests of the veteran’s family. They do this primarily to show respect for those that have died in uniform. They also do it to prevent the disruption of these memorials by protestors. They do this as volunteers, not unlike those they are honoring.

Somewhere, in a cubicle in the Pentagon, I’m sure there’s somebody who couldn’t be happier about the sagging economy. Many people get into the military because it’s a job or a means to pay for an education. Money was the biggest reason I put on a uniform when I was 18. Got money? I’m not likely to see you in the ranks. I believe this all-volunteer system is a good thing for the military. However, there is no equivalent civilian organization where people must serve. There is no compulsory service of any kind. I believe the hard work of running this farm is being done by those from lower economic origins. We’re creating a divided society. On the high end of the divide, many believe they live in an entitlement society. They take and are not required to give. Shall there be no price whatsoever for enjoying liberty?

I don’t want a military draft. But I wish everybody had to do something that made them grit their teeth and get sweaty and tired for their country. Otherwise, we’re going to turn into a nation of self-absorbed, obese jerks that are protected by the highly motivated poor. Some might say we already have. Until my wish comes true, I ask you to look in the mirror. Did you vote? Good. That’s job one. What else? Raise your hand and do something. Anything. Join the Patriot Guard Riders in your spare time. Read a book to an elderly person that can no longer see. Help deliver a meal to a shut-in. Coach a kid’s sports team. Help maintain a trail. Find a calling larger than yourself. Try it. You’ll like it.


About Eric Chandler

Husband. Father. Pilot. Cross Country Skier. Writer. Author of Outside Duluth and Down In It.
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One Response to “Find a reason to serve your country” Duluth News Tribune, 23 Nov 2008.

  1. Pingback: Never Volunteer | SHMOTOWN

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