As a kid we often got excited about trips. Traveling to different states could feel like going to a different country. There were accents, customs, personalities, and a sense of loyalty. I remember exclaiming when I would see something familiar, such as a gas station, or favorite restaurant chain.
As an adult, this giddy perspective matures into an understanding of the division of our great nation. The politics, religion (or lack thereof), ideals, and opinions that make us individuals, also cause separation. The war that wages abroad, causes anxiety and dissetion here.
I was doing some training in another state, about two and a half hours away from home. While dining alone in the hotel lobby one evening, I was engaged in conversation. The usual niceties of discussion were envoked. I explained that I was there for training, and gave a generic description of my specialty. I was open with my military views, and indeed proud to share.
While I was not met with hostility, I was met with misunderstanding. Instead of respecting my small role, the individual attempted at dissuading me from my duty. This former Army soldier told me to get out, save my future, and other such things.
I was astonished at this reaction, especially from someone who served four years. There are those who serve this country because of the monetary benefits, travel opprotunities, or simply as a way out. I understand, and I do not hold any animosity or disrespect toward them for this. However, there are also those who serve because of a sheer love and patriotism for this country. Whether we are at war, or at peace, this love does not die. It is not a love that comes with tragedy and leaves at mourning's end. It is a love that is renewed by the faces of loved ones, a pride that tingles with the playing of our National Anthem, and a respect that shows in the sharpness of a salute to our flag; an acknowledgement of those who came before.
We shine our boots, iron our uniforms, and march for the hell of it. Our dicipline isn't instructed, it's inate. This love cannot be taught, or ingrained, or as the person in the restaurant claimed "brainwashed". It is a blessing, that is cultivated, refined, honed, and developed into Nationalism.
Many will never understand this concept. Perhaps they have never served, or perhaps, they did their four and got out. We, however, when faced with the prospect of having to leave, search desperately for ways to stay. We are not ignorant, we understand what is or could be at stake, and we gladly move towards the idea of a service greater than oneself. We are bonded by this, and it goes beyond rank, beyond branch, beyond generations.
Reguardless of why, we are the defenders of freedom.