2017-11-08 / Editorials

Don Lively

ABOVE AND BEYOND

Happy Birthday, Devil Dog.

You're looking really well to be 242 years old.

You've been through literal hell on earth all over the world.

You've stormed beaches and engaged enemies more numerous than you.

You've slogged through God-forsaken swamps and wastelands searching out those who oppose freedom and who would impose their fanaticism on the rest of the world were it not for you and other American warriors.

You've planted our flag atop hills and mountains and buildings after conquering those places in the name of freedom.

Yes, you've come a long way since that long ago meeting of a handful of patriots on a backstreet in Philadelphia at Tun Tavern.

You are indeed, the few, the proud.

The Marines.

It's worth noting that after that historic day, November 10th, 1775, it only took a few months for the founders to raise and train enough troops to be battle ready and willing to fight for America.

This week marks the birth of the United States Marine Corps.

I may have mentioned a time or two that my son is a Marine. He served four years that included two tours in the Middle East where everybody you run into is a potential threat.

He's out of the Corps these days.

He's a veteran.

I also have a bonus son who's a military man.

(Please allow me an aside here. When I remarried a couple of years ago, along with my new bride I got her two children and three grandchildren in the deal. We were blessed with another baby girl born early this year. I refuse to call them "steps". So, for purposes of my scribblings, now and forever, to differentiate between hers and mine, I will refer to hers as my bonus kids and bonus grandkids.)

My bonus son served in the Marines and the Army and saw combat in the Middle East. He's recently taken a full time position with the South Carolina National Guard.

As you might expect, my wife and I are strong supporters of a strong military.

This week we also honor all veterans with their own day of remembrance even though we should honor the men and women who have gone to war on our behalf every day.

Throughout our nation's history there have been times when a draft was required to fill the needs of the military's mission, mainly when we were fighting all over Europe and the South Pacific. But many who fought in WWII were not drafted. Of all of the men that I personally knew when I was growing up on the farm, mostly Daddy's cronies, almost all of them had served.

And they all volunteered.

Since 1973 every man or woman who served in any branch of the military did so on a totally voluntary basis. Millions of young citizens have given up several years of their lives in large part because they understood that their country needed them. They put their own lives and dreams on hold in order for the rest of us to continue to live our dreams.

How have we thanked them?

For the past several decades there has been a small but loud and vocal group of our fellow Americans who have opposed almost any military mission by our country, apparently preferring to stick their heads in the sand and pretend that we have no enemies. Consequently, our brave warriors have often been demonized.

It's the reason why every second or third election cycle a new president has to rebuild a gutted, demoralized military that the prior president(s) tried to turn into social experiments.

Regardless of who the Commander-In-Chief is our men and women have continued to volunteer. To do the best that they can with the limited resources they are given and the extremely misguided rules of engagement that are thrust on them.

They continue to perform valiantly wherever they are sent.

One day every man or woman currently serving our nation will leave the military and will become a veteran.

Some are Army.

Some are Navy.

Some are Air Force.

Some are Marines.

Some are Coast Guard.

All are heroes.

Let's not wait until they are out of the service to honor them.

Active military and veterans, God bless you.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Don Lively is a freelance writer and author of two books of Southern Humor, Howlin' At The Dixie Moon, and, South O' Yonder. He lives in Shell Bluff. Email Don at Livelycolo@aol.com.

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