We few, we happy few. Many will know the Shakespeare text of which I speak when it was said, “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;For he to-day that sheds his blood with me Shall be my brother” If you are unsure whom I reference, let me go ahead and fill you in. This week, 7 Marines and 4 Soldiers perished in a tragic helicopter incident off the coast of Florida. As tragic as this incident was, I was actually fascinated by the response on social media. You see, many reported the incident on social media, but few, so very few actually took time to honor the fallen. Too many discarded this as another car accident type event and moved on with their merry days. I wouldn’t expect much more and honestly don’t hold it against any who did. Rather, it falls upon those whom have served to honor the death of our fallen, because to be quite honest, I am not sure too many others would care to try. And even if they did, I am not sure it would matter.
Let me go ahead and remind you again, I am a Marine Veteran of no particular special merit. I served, went pew pew pew in the enemy’s general direction in Iraq, but that was about it. While I might have the occasional skill with words, I simply don’t want to confuse you that this somehow translates to making me a special operator of any sort. Whenever I see a bearded internet meme asking me, “Do You Even Operate Bro?”, I often reply with no, no sorry, I don’t operate at all actually. If you were confused about the matter, let me just remind you that you are indeed reading a blog titled Unprecedented Mediocrity.
But these Warriors on the doomed Helo, these do not appear to be your average Grunt. By all accounts, it would appear that most if not all were accomplished warriors. In fact, one had just recently received the Silver Star for actions in combat. Consequently, I think it highlights the tragedy of such an event. Technology is a hell of thing in that it can bring swift death to those on both sides of it. These Warrior Marines were at the mercy of the technology in this crash. However, if you put these Marines in the streets of Iraq and Afghanistan against a much larger force, well, I like those odds. All those whom serve deserve honor, respect, and a toast at their passing. However, for warriors such as these, perhaps you pull out your finest whiskey for this toast. But let’s talk a little more about this honor.
We Honor Our Own
As the news began to break on social media regarding the tragedy, I took note that while many reported it, it was only the Veteran and Military pages that took time to honor them. Lamenting a death and honoring it is not the same thing. However, this is not an article to make civilians feel bad nor is it one to drum up support for some crocodile tears. Rather, I am just commenting that those who know will always toast the fallen because they know too well that no one else will in any meaningful manner. To be honest, I think Veterans are good with this arrangement and I’ll tell you why a little later. However, it is an inevitable by product of a society too far removed from the sacrifice of a very few. Winston Churchill once said of the RAF in World War 2, “Never was so much, owed by so many, to so few.” Too bad the many in this case think rarely of the few.
For even at the height of World War 2 in America, would it surprise you that only 12% of the population served in the military? Would it further shock you that despite nearly 14 years of war, only 0.5% of the population has served during these recent conflicts. Oh we few, we happy few. It is remarkable to think that if you combined every Veteran and Military page on social media, you wouldn’t come close to reaching the 77 million fans that follow Justin Beiber, or as I like to call him, the taint of Canada. In fact, were he to tweet or message a remorseful thought about the passing of these great warriors, more would see it than if the sum of the military community posted in unison. While that might seem tragic and painful, I think I speak for us Veterans when I say, suck it citizens of apathy. We don’t need no stinking tears.
Honor, Courage, Commitment
Look, again, I am not hear to claim that every civilian doesn’t care. Many of you do and that is respectful. Rather, I am just saying most don’t care and if you do care, you are in the minority. However, I am here to claim that Veterans could care less about civilian apathy. Or at the very least, I have given up on awakening the apathetic. As a man of faith, I don’t give much weight to any earthly honor that I might receive at my passing. However, if I did, I would just want it from my family. Yes, I am talking about my immediate blood, but family flows further than blood in the Veteran community. For if 2nd Platoon, Kilo Company 3rd Battalion 23rd Marines of 2003 would have a drink and a toast at my death, well that is about all the earthly respect I would need. Those are my brothers of war, and by virtue of our common mother, WAR, all Veterans are my family. To be honest, all 77 million of Justin Bieber’s fans can dance on my grave so long as the men that matter think fondly of me at my death.
So while the Veteran community honors these fallen Marines and Soldiers and the rest of the world moves on, I am just here to tell you that I am not sure warriors would have it any other way. We few, we happy few, know the rare joy of brotherhood in this modern age. Social Media has connected us in this modern age, but we have no different heart than those who lit the fires of a Viking funeral in ages past. For I would rather the honor and respect a few proud men, than the passing sentiments of an ungrateful and apathetic nation. So if the passing of these Marines matters to you, raise a drink! If they don’t, well, carry on with the plan of the day and suck it.
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