Yesterday the head honcho at [government agency redacted] where I'm currently under contract released the typical political appointee message for a national holiday. It ended with the obligatory paean to the military:
And I also hope you’ll remember all the men and women who have sacrificed in so many different ways to build our nation, especially including those who have given or risked their lives in the armed services.
Nice, but unremarkable. Why did it irritate me so much yesterday? We've heard these on every remotely applicable occasion, since September 11, 2001. What was different this time?
I've broken the code.
Asking people to remember those who serve in the uniformed services always leaves out one part: so I don't have to. Veterans never say shit like that. Their phrasing is more to the point. None of this And I hope you'll remember… Could it be any more mealy mouthed? If it wouldn't be too much trouble? If you think of it? Don’t put yourself out, but…
Too many people praise the military now as sops to their own nascent consciences about who serves and who doesn't. Let's call a spade a spade. Just once I'd like to see someone come clean and send out one of these:
And I want to praise all those brave men and women who allow our government to place them in harm's way so I –or my kid—can pursue an MBA (or play college sports or get likkered up on weekends or work the commodities markets). Thank God we'll always have people like that. It's hard enough making the decision to send them without having to worry about going ourselves.
One last thing. Today, of all days, take a look at the paraphrase on the masthead above. The next time you're debating someone about FISA and warrants and torture and freedom, remember Benjamin Franklin said all we really need to know about the topic two hundred plus years ago: "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."
Happy Independence Day, and many more, for as long as we deserve them.