If you value your freedom, thank a soldier…

I come from a family of soldiers.  In fact, I’m an odd man out in that I did not serve in the military.  Having said that, I have the utmost respect for our armed forces.  There are some good men and women in the service.  Even the ones that are there due to ulterior motives have agreed to defend our country against aggressors, to the point of laying down their life if necessary.  You honor and respect that choice, regardless of the reasons.  You honor that service, even, or perhaps especially, if you have not served yourself.  What you don’t do, though, is equate that soldier with freedom…

I know, that sounds down right blasphemous, considering we have Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day and several lesser known days in which we honor our service men and women, past and present.  But your freedom was not granted to you by a soldier.  Nor a religion.  Nor a piece of paper written by famous men.  It is a truth held to be self-evident, beholden to no one and no institution.  And soldiers are not the only people who protect your freedom, physically or conceptually.  Teachers, officers, lawyers, citizens and dissidents all exercise and defend our freedoms, every day.  They teach others to recognize them, to understand them and to respect them.  They push and pull those freedoms, challenging the status quo, fighting to remind us of the ground we have lost.  Don’t just thank a soldier, thank those around you, many of whom are not nearly as popular or patriotic sounding as our soldiers…

So having said all of that, the main reason for my point today, isn’t about recognizing the work others are doing to protect and grow our freedom(s), but to make us realize how dangerous it is to equate freedom with our military; with war and military action.  Freedom, protecting and establishing it, becomes an extension of violence and military action.  More so, because our military is the extension of our government, freedom becomes something sanctioned by our government, to be doled out, weighed and measured in police actions, conflicts, pre-emptive strikes and considered warfare.  And because it is in the name of freedom, any justification the government needs to restrain our freedoms in an effort to protect them must be allowed!

This isn’t a slippery slope, my friends.  A path that one accidentally stumbled upon in the course of being a citizen.  This is a road to Hell that has been laid brick by carefully planned brick.  The associations that are being drawn, are not by accident.  Patriotism and freedom have become synonymous with military might and our government.  Don’t speak out against the government or you’re against freedom!  We saw this in the years following the events of 9/11.  It would be almost six years before people would be able to criticize the actions of the government without immediately being shouted down in the name of freedom.

Thank our veterans, for their service and commitment.  Your freedom, though, is your responsibility.

By Dan Granot

I chose the Shorter Whitman because of his work, "Song of Myself" and because of my self-deprecating sense of humor. I am under no illusion that I can write successful essays or poetry, but I have been known to write them anyway.

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