The War Debt

Note: I served in the U.S. Air Force from 2000-2007. My AFSC was 3C0X1 (Communications computer systems operator). My highest rank was E-5 (Staff Sergeant), and I received an honorable discharge.

Hopefully you’ve never been to war. Hopefully the closest you’ve come to war is watching movies about ones that happened before you were born, but you probably aren’t that isolated. You probably know a few service members, and if you don’t then you know someone who does.

If you’ve spent half your life sitting on the couch watching television and the other half surfing the internet then you’ve seen some really realistic war movies. You’ve watched fifty documentaries on the Holocaust, and you’ve seen a billion news segments on the wars in the Middle East. So even if you’ve never been to war you still understand the concept. You deserve a good amount of credit for understanding what war is, why it happens and what it costs.

You’ve probably seen “Saving Private Ryan,” “The Pacific,” “Band of Brothers,”  “Hurt Locker,” and maybe even “Generation Kill.” You’ve seen the sacrifice. You were moved by the orchestra music, and you’re not stupid. You understand that you owe a debt to all the soldiers throughout history who have died in vain or successfully so that you would have a better life. The thought has got to have crossed your mind at some point in your life, and if it hasn’t, I’m telling you now. You owe a debt to every soldier, living and dead.

Here’s the thing about that. Those soldiers didn’t die just so you could be comfortable. Each generation has to give something to the next generation in order for humanity to survive much less fulfill its greatest potential. Fallen soldiers took a bullet for the team. This begs the question, what have you done for the team? Without being accusatory, it’s a legitimate question that every human being needs to ask themself.

Only you can answer that question, and if you haven’t thought about it then you’ve let your fallen brethren down. They thought about it, and they put their money where their mouth was. If you haven’t even thought about it, and you aren’t going to do anything about it as long as you’re not actively being guilt tripped then those soldiers died for nothing. If you’re going to let the world devolve into “Jersey Shore” then it might have been better if the Nazis had won. I’m being sarcastic, the Nazis should not have won…nor should the civilian sector be spending their hard-won years of freedom resigned to their couches learning how to act stupid. The civilian sector was supposed to pick up where the soldiers left off and go on to build paradise.

That’s how it works. You don’t just sit there and be thankful. You repay the debt. You owe it to your ancestors and your decedents. You’re not the tip of the spear. You’re a link in a chain. You owe it to everybody to devote your life to helping humanity achieve its potential. If you don’t know how to do that then you need to ask as many people as it takes until someone explains it to you or you figure out for yourself, because you can’t weasel out of the debt by claiming ignorance. You’re not ignorant, and it wouldn’t make the debt go away even if you were.

Soldiers don’t get to make excuses. They don’t get to say no. If they can’t do something they figure out a work around. If they don’t know how to do something they teach themselves. They don’t sit around cursing their uselessness and using it to justify future uselessness. They accomplish the mission and/or die trying.

That’s the bar soldiers set for humanity. The civilian sector is capable of the exact same level of accountability, and it’s not like this is a terrible, burden that’s going to cost civilians everything they hold dear. Civilians don’t even need to bother setting out POW tables or sticking “Fallen but not forgotten” bumper stickers on their trucks. All they need to do is try to figure out how they can make the world a better place for themselves and everyone else to live in…and then do that. Coincidentally, we were all supposed to be doing that for a bunch of reasons anyway.

And yet we live in Idiocracy. Someone’s not paying their war debt.

Having said all that, there are a lot of hard truths that the world needs to understand about the modern United States Military: 


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