Apathy and Amnesia
I recently had the honor of welcoming home a group of soldiers returning from a combat deployment. I stood at the bottom of the stairs of their transport aircraft shaking hands with a cadre of tired men who had been gone for nearly 9 months. There were no days off for them, no long weekends, just hard dangerous work every day. Their eyes spoke volumes, weariness, relief and many other emotions. Also along with us were several Vietnam vetereans that come to greet every single flight that returns. They simply offer a quiet thank you.
Before our guys landed I spoke with some of those older vets and they told stories of how they came home back in 69 and 72. As you might imagine their story was much different than today. They came home to vitriolic abuse, people protesting and spitting on them. Shame on us as a nation.
In recent days you may have read of budget cuts for military retirees and I'm afraid that this is just the beginning. Then this morning I see the headline below that increases my suspicions. I wonder what my soldiers face as they come to the end of their service. I sense that we are adrift in our national priorities arguing about the wrong things and living for the wrong things. Most don't understand movies like Lone Survivor. I'm afraid we are forgetting....again. It is tragically funny how history repeats itself.
It's obvious that soldiers returning home are not getting spit on, but I sense something more ominous and much more destructive....apathy. Apathy is a poison that infects and then erodes from within. At its heart apathy is rooted is forgetfulness and self worship. Apathy simply says "I don't care". Apathy leads to inaction. Apathy leads to softness, to a state of unreadiness, to myopic worldviews that focus simply on me and my needs. There is no passion or self sacrifice in apathy. There are no heroic stories in apathy. There is only amnesia and status quo in apathy.
In a speech on 27 July 1920 president Calvin Coolidge said this "The nation which forgets its defenders will be itself be forgotten"
Don't be forgotten.