Growing up, my mother had me watch plenty of old musicals, dramas, and comedies. Each movie had its share of cheese, but many held a central theme of war or military with an attached fondness. Bing Crosby, and Donald O’Conner come to mind as men who sang “Gee I wish I was back in the Army” by Irving Berlin, and Gene Kelly singing and dancing to “Anchors Away” the classic Navy song. In another old movie, “Francis the Talking Mule”, Donald O’Conner would have antics that would certainly poke fun at the military blunders and ways, but overall there was a respect and honor of the military that would carry throughout its central themes. Each character in these films were excited to serve the military, and those who avoided recruitment were chastised and shunned. In another old movie with Gene Kelly, “Me and My Gal”, the main character slams his hand in a chest in order to stay out of the military and remain back at home with his girl. She in return was incredulous, and would not stand for his cowardice over his actions. These mentalities have been lost.
During the Vietnam War, soldiers would return home to the jeers and chastisement of the very people they were serving. These citizens were infuriated over why the United States had entered the war in the first place, and in order to show it they would dishonor the people who represented the organization they despised: by spitting on them. These actions have been brought into light by Hollywood and various initiatives, and today the general reaction in our culture is to honor the soldier regardless of what war they are fighting or the reasons that put them there.
As I think about our current political climate and each of the military branches, I do not see the honor that was once there. Murmurs abound from young and old alike from veterans and civilians who complain and are outraged over the military and government. Our country has been, and is currently, plagued by political men of power that use the system for their own gain rather than lean toward altruism and serve the country for which they were elected. As the years have progressed, this has led to a generation that seeks their own good before the good of others, as they do not see “Men of Action” taking action on their behalf. Honor has eroded and we act accordingly. We protect ourselves and our interests.
September 11th, 2001 was a day that changed history in our country forever, and for the first time in a long time, we had a country that stood together. The United States was spoken of with honor. There was a shift in the atmosphere and our country wasn’t just a name with various factions inside it, but in fact was quite “united”. We stopped fighting amongst ourselves to fight the threat to our way of life… to our freedom. There was hope, there was unity, there was honor.
We need honor. Even as we judge the motives of the heart of our political figures and those who make decisions that effect the outcome of our daily lives and our future, it remains imperative to be honorable in our actions and with our speech to those around us. No matter what you may think of the looming wars, or their rumors, let us not repeat what we have seen in our history. I urge you as you read this to respect and honor the military men and women who serve our country and to hold them in high regard. And I also urge you to express your disagreements that you may have with our political figures with honor. Wemust choose to honor in order to see honor reciprocated. This will change a nation.