Sunday, November 11, 2012

A veteran's thoughts on Veteran's Day

I was going to take advantage of Applebee's offering of a free meal today, and Golden Corral's offer tomorrow. This two-week period is one in which I have very little money left after paying rent, and since moving to Virginia and enduring several months of unemployment earlier this year I have no savings to speak of, so a free meal would help me stretch my budget. But reading about Applebee's CEO's threat to hurt his employees because of the projected costs of offering them basic health care I decided not to avail myself of something that only decreases his profits more and gives him more justification for his actions. I also won't be eating at Papa John's since their CEO wants to make a political statement at the expense of his employees. These CEOs receive excellent compensation and live in luxury (Papa John's CEO's castle), yet they choose to sacrifice their employees rather than lessen their own wealth. I can't be a party to that. I refuse to do something that will disadvantage another person who's economic situation is likely similar to my own. 

Another factor in my decision is that I joined the military for my own reasons. I was given an excellent education during my enlistment, I was fed, clothed and housed for free or at a low cost subsidized by American's tax dollars. I chose to enlist and serve. I do not need to be thanked for doing what I chose to do. It isn't rational to try and make my service, or anyone else's, an act of sainthood. A lot of Americans protect and serve our country; the police and fire department men and women, utility workers, doctors and nurses, teachers and yes, even honest and conscientious politicians. Where are their free meals? Where are their holidays? 

Not every member of the Armed Forces is a hero. We have medals and awards for those few who risk their own lives in the performance of truly heroic actions. We lessen the importance of their sacrifice when we call every service person a hero. 

I'm not special, I'm not unique, I'm not a hero. I'm like thousands of other Americans and thousands of other current and former soldiers. We go to work, we pay bills, we're thankful that, while we don't have much, we have more than our brothers and sisters who are unemployed and/or homeless. Those are the Americans who need a free meal. 

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