Posted by: Jacqui Murray | 08/16/2010

Why We Serve


Photo credit: Nemo

This is a letter from a fellow blogger and patriot, Yankee Sailor.He shares his thoughts on Why We Serve:

An Open Letter to America’s “Best and Brightest”

Posted by Yankee Sailor on 10Apr07.

I am not a scholar or a baron of industry. Neither am I a politician or statesman, with the weight of great office behind my words. I have neither fame nor fortune to carry my words from sea to shining sea. I must rely on the good graces of others to accomplish that.

In these respects, I am just like you.

It is not for want of opportunity that I am none of these things. I attended a top-tier university for my undergraduate studies, subsequently earned a master’s degree and have a number of published scholarly works to my name. The door to what we call the American Dream these days was open wide, and a six-figure income, nice home and a car that would impress my friends were all within my grasp. I am not a scholar, industrialist or academic today, however, because I chose to serve and found its rewards invaluable.

I made my decision in the midst of two twilights – the evening twilight of the Cold War and the morning twilight of Islamic radicalism. When I was young it was still not uncommon for American and Soviet warships to intentionally bump one another to make a political point. My very first ship, an aircraft carrier, was rarely out of view of a Soviet intelligence-gathering vessel when deployed. And while the tide of terror and the radical ideology behind it was just coming into view, few doubted it was rising.

I, like you, had heard talk of the importance of service, but I did not fully understand until I was well into my career. Aside from my father’s brief enrollment in the Marine Corps’ Platoon Leaders Course prior to the Vietnam War, no one in my immediate family had served. My family was a mix of quiet, Rockefeller Republicans and outspoken, Liberal Democrats. Some were proud of my choice, most were indifferent and a few believed I was wasting my life.

Even at the end of my first tour I did not clearly see the value in my service. It took having a family and September 11th to bring things into focus. On that day I was serving on another ship, and we were in port in the Mediterranean. When we received the news of the attacks we hastily got underway. Once safely at sea all eyes were glued to CNN and all lips fell silent. As the first tower began to crumble, freedom seemed fragile and I worried more for the safety of my family than they did for mine.

Today, five years later, we are still at war with no end in sight. Even more troubling, our enemy has been struggling on one level or another to create a global Islamic state for nearly fourteen centuries. They are patient, they are cunning, and they are ruthless in pursuing their goals.

As a result, your family, friends and neighbors need your service, whether they know it or not. We in uniform need your service as well. Racial, ethnic, religious, economic and ideological diversity broadens and strengthens our ability analyze problems and construct solutions that are best for all Americans.

The six-figure salaries, spacious homes and shiny, new cars will wait for you. And you just might find that not only are these comforts within easier reach, but you will appreciate them more. As a Marine officer during the Vietnam War once commented, “For those who have fought for it, freedom has a flavor the protected will never know.” Today I can confirm that he was right. Without serving, you will probably have these luxuries sooner, but only those that have chosen to wear the cloth of the nation may know what they are really worth.

The freedoms we as Americans enjoy – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – are easily taken for granted and just as easily taken away when citizens, particularly the well-educated and influential citizens, are indifferent. Our enemy has been trying to whittle away at those freedoms for 1400 years. A few years of your time is a small price to pay for a lifetime of liberty, and you and your country will be better in the end.



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