Remember the Service of Our Heroes This Christmas Season
December 24, 2014
During this Christmas season we have been inundated with news stories about U.S. soldiers stationed overseas who are separated from their families. This has been increasing every year since the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.
The American Red Cross has a “Holiday Mail for Heroes” program that allows people to send a card of thanks and support to military personnel and their families. Charities and schools across the country host Christmas card drives for troops. Students make Christmas cards for service members. There are toy drives for the children of military personnel (these are to be distinguished from Toys for Tots, which provides gifts to poor children). Trees for Troops provides free, farm-grown Christmas trees to military personnel and their families.
Sometimes military families are interviewed and express how much they miss their “heroes” who are “serving” in Afghanistan, Japan, South Korea, Germany, or a hundred other countries where U.S. troops are stationed. Soldiers stationed on the other side of the world are shown getting all choked up as they talk about how much they miss their families during the holidays.
Pardon me while I wipe away a tear.
No U.S. soldier had to enlist in the military. No U.S. soldier had to volunteer to be a pawn in the blood-soaked hands of Uncle Sam. No U.S. soldier had to take part in an unnecessary war. No U.S. soldier had to join the Army, travel the world, meet interesting people, and kill them. No U.S. soldier had to make a career out of military service. No U.S. soldier had to leave his family for months at a time. No U.S. soldier had to reject the foreign policy of the Founding Fathers. No U.S. soldier had to fight a foreign war. No U.S. soldier had to serve as part of the president’s personal attack force. No U.S. soldier had to intervene in some country he had no business being in. No U.S. soldier had to not be there when one of his children was born. No U.S. soldier had to be part of a global force for imperialism. No U.S. soldier had to help maintain an evil empire. No U.S. soldier had to take part in a senseless war. No U.S. soldier had to pretend that he was serving the country. No U.S. soldier had to help carry out a reckless, belligerent, and meddling U.S. foreign policy. No U.S. soldier had to pretend he was defending our freedoms. No U.S. soldier had to be a U.S. soldier.
I have no sympathy, empathy, or compassion for soldiers who are separated from their families during the Christmas season. I do pity their families, who most of the time have nothing to do with it. I say most of the time because sometimes military wives are fanatical military worshippers who deliberately marry someone in the military because their father, grandfather, and brother were all in the military and they relish the military culture. The heart of even a cold-hearted soul like me (so some people say) aches for the innocent children of those in the military who are stationed overseas.
(I don’t think you want to hear my opinion of couples who both serve in the military, men whose wives serve in the military while they stay home and take care of the kids, or single mothers who join the military and leave their children with relatives.)
Instead of the unnecessary and dishonorable service of U.S. military personnel, I think we should remember the necessary and honorable service of some real heroes this Christmas season. Here are ten of them.
- Hospital workers. Hospitals never close for holidays. If you or a loved one has the misfortune of being in the hospital on Christmas Day remember that the doctors, nurses, and staff are away from their loved ones as they take care of you or yours. Thank them profusely for their service if you happen to venture into a hospital this Christmas season.
- Taxi drivers. Absolutely essential. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are just another work day for them. We forget that they have families too. Give them an extra tip this Christmas season.
- Restaurant workers. Many restaurants are open later hours during the Christmas season to accommodate holiday shoppers. Some restaurants are even open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I remember traveling once on Christmas Day from Greenville, South Carolina, to Pensacola, Florida, and finding a restaurant that was open so my family could have lunch. Thank God for Waffle House.
- Hotel workers. Many Americans who travel during the Christmas holiday season don’t stay with family or friends. They stay in a hotel. Like hospitals, hotels never close for holidays. In fact, they probably do more business around holidays. How about thanking them for their service?
- Airline workers. Many Americans travel to visit family during the Christmas season. This means that those who work for the airlines must not see their families so they can work to help others travel—even on Christmas Day. Since pilots actually do keep us safe, we can certainly thank them for doing so.
- Ministers. We often forget about ministers during the holidays. But like any other time of the year, they must be available to meet the spiritual needs of their congregations every day of the year, including Christmas Day. People die on Christmas. People get in accidents on Christmas Day. People contemplate suicide on Christmas Day. Don’t forget the service of ministers during this time of year.
- Garbagemen. Now that is a thankless job. They will be picking up all the extra trash that is generated on Christmas Day. I try to give mine cold cans of coke during the summer. I will be thanking them for their service this winter. Hey, sometimes it even gets cold in central Florida.
- Nursing home workers. Another thankless job. And it is your relatives they might be looking after. They are performing a service that few of us have the patience for. Thank them for it when you go to visit your grandmother this Christmas. You were going to visit her, weren’t you?
- Convenience store workers. Need to gas up your car on Christmas Day? Need some ice? Need a loaf of bread? Need some food item for your Christmas dinner? Perhaps you just ran out of cigarettes? Be thankful that there are workers on Christmas Day at your local convenience store. And remember that they are probably getting paid much less than you are. Be sure to thank them for their service if you happen to need it this Christmas season.
- Television station workers. Many families plop down in front of their television sets after a long day of holiday festivities. Someone is working somewhere to make the programming possible. Shouldn’t we thank them for their service?
Notice that I did not mention police officers. My omission is deliberate. For more info on why, see the many articles on the militarization of the police by Paul Craig Roberts and Will Grigg. And be careful if you are traveling on Christmas Day; the cops will still hide at the bottom of a hill and give you a speeding ticket.
Serving in the military on Christmas Day in some unnecessary conflict in some place where U.S. troops have no business being doesn’t make someone a hero. Serving your fellowman does.
Laurence M. Vance [send him mail] writes from central Florida. He is the author of King James, His Bible, and Its Translators, The Revolution that Wasn’t, The War on Drugs Is a War on Freedom, and Social Insecurity. His latest books are War, Christianity, and the State: Essays on the Follies of Christian Militarism and War, Empire, and the Military: Essays on the Follies of War and U.S. Foreign Policy. Visit his website.