Probably not would be the short answer. However, short answers don’t make for very good blogs. The truth is, although America most likely does not take the Military seriously, I am ok with this. As a Marine Veteran of Iraq, one might expect I would have another response. However, let me explain. Now I know you have seen this picture of my Platoon before, 2nd Platoon Kilo Company 3rd Batallion 23rd Marines. You see, on Unprecedented Mediocrity, there are 3 pictures I plan to use on a regular basis. If you see this picture, this is my “Let me speak to you as a Veteran” picture. If you see the one with myself and Corporal Curry smoking a Cigar, that is the, “Let me tell you a thing or two as a Marine” picture. Lastly, if you see the picture of Marines on a C-130 heading into Iraq flipping off the camera picture, well, that is the “Now you pissed a Marine off” picture. It’s a personal blog, I can do stuff like this.
The Novelty of War
There was a well written and much more scholarly article written in The Atlantic titled “The Tragedy of the American Military.” In it, the author points out as I have many times on this blog, that throughout the past decade of War, life for the average American was affected very little. Moreover, upon our continual return from War, the appreciation from fellow Americans for our efforts was often brief and somewhat superficial. The Atlantic article was written by James Fallows and worth a read.
When my unit returned from Iraq in 2003, we landed at March Air Force Base in California. Upon exiting the plane, there were some fire trucks spewing columns of water, a few people clapping, and some men in suits whom I presume were politicians there to shake our hands as we walked by. It was a nice enough gesture I guess. Then upon returning to my hometown, I would run into the occasional person willing to buy me a drink. That was nice, I like free drinks.
However, since I got out of the Marine Corps in 2003, I watched a fairly remarkable thing take place. You see, in 2003, it was somewhat novel to be a War Veteran as the wars were fairly new to America. I think the appreciation was genuine as we were still in our post 9-11 God Bless America phase. But as the Wars continued on and became more violent and deadly than in 2003, I noticed from the sidelines as a Veteran as America began to check out and move on. Sure you drag us out onto mid field during halftime or on stage for a political speech. However, genuine interest doesn’t exactly ooze from your efforts as pictures of Kim Kardashian’s butt are breaking the internet with your attention.
Little Wars Gain Little Attention
Now to those of us who fought or served in these Wars, we scoff at the idea of our experience being little. After all, its been over 11 years for me and I’m still writing about it to this day. Facebook and the internet are full of military and veteran communities who enjoy exchanging witty banter, experiences, and the occasional actually frequent Grunt versus POG conversation. However fellow Veterans, let me just say that we have to be honest. America was affected very little by our service as they shared in neither the sacrifice or cost of War. As happy as we are to provide content for your movies and video games, there was actually a lot more to it. Millions of kids in America will be disappointed to find out that our goal over there was to kill while surviving and not go Prestige mode on Call of Duty.
This is not our fault Veterans. We can’t be called upon to fight the Wars and rally the public at the same time. We are not the early version of Captain America designed to sell war bonds. However, its here that I am torn. Is this what I want? Part of me thinks that it is noble of us to fight the wars while America gets to sleep in peace. Isn’t that the premise of the all volunteer military? Then, another part of me gets that same look of disgust Clint Eastwood had on his face in Grand Torino as he looked upon kids that don’t get it. Despite the fact that I am without answer, the fact remains true. The American behemoth barely felt a lump in its butt as it sat on our sacrifice in peace.
Time to Move On
Saddle up fellow Veterans. The world awaits us. Honestly, until our elected leadership commits this entire nation to war as easily as it does its military this lack of attention will not be changed. Those who enlist will fight for the joy of it and those who don’t will just do whatever they do. Look, I am not asking for a parade or anything. I am not even asking for free chicken strips from Applebee’s on Veterans Day. Full disclosure, I will still in fact eat my free chicken strips on Veteran’s Day because I like it, that’s why. But point is, I didn’t ask for it.
However, it is time as this chapter in our history starts to close for us Veterans to move on towards the next chapter in our lives. Having served in 2003, I might be a little further down that road than some, so let me just tell you that there is much life to be lived and it doesn’t have to be militaristic. I love the Terminal Lance comics as most of you do. They are funny, insightful and relevant. However, I think what makes them as appealing as any is that they are written and drawn by a Grunt done good. Namely, I think Terminal Lance is a shining example of a Veteran moving on to a new phase of his life and thriving. Embracing what the military offered him and yet chasing the rest that life has to offer. I don’t know the guy or have any idea whether he realizes he is an example to grunts as much as he is their entertainment, but I believe he is.
Veterans of these Wars will be impacting America for the next 70 years. They are already infiltrating Congress and who knows, maybe we get a President one day. Ahem, General Mattis. Start your business, grow your families, don’t forget those still in the fight, and stop waiting for America to wake up and understand us. Marines pride themselves on their ability to adapt and overcome. Well, there is one final great adaptation left. Overcome it all, and let’s proceed with our lives. After all, we earned them more than most.
Sign up below to recieve Unprecedented Mediocrity directly to your email for like the Unprecedented Mediocrity page on Facebook.