Text & Toon by John Auchter
The vast majority of us Americans have no direct ties to our military. Most of us have not served in the armed services. There are lots of reasons for this, but it’s mostly because service is voluntary and has been for over 40 years.
It’s something of a symbiotic relationship: Sometimes beneficial — generally citizens in the military are those who want to be in the military, and those who don’t want to be are free to pursue other goals. But other times it feels as if those in the military are doing all the sacrificing.
We just celebrated Veterans Day, which annually brings this awkwardness into relief. Honoring our soldiers, supporting our troops is often just lip service. We genuflect out of habit. It is marketed to us. It gives politicians and grandstanders a guaranteed ovation line.
Perhaps a better way for us civilians to honor the sacrifices of those who serve is to take better care of what the troops are protecting. If they are the defenders, then shouldn’t the rest of us, at the very least, be proper caretakers?
This past week there were a couple of cautionary stories. From Flint and the ongoing water disaster, there have been court hearings concerning the spike in deaths from Legionnaires’ disease and potential mishandling by state officials. In Rockford near Grand Rapids, residents are grappling with water contamination from industrial sludge dumps.
This isn’t right. Freedom is of no use to you if you’re poisoned to death. We need to be better stewards of our freedom.