It seems to be human nature that, in times where things are going against you, you ask yourself, “Why me?” There have been times in my life, both as a child and as an adult, when I asked that question. When my father would hear that from me he had a standard answer and it was: “Why not you?” He thought that no one was that special that they could dodge the various less-than-good things that came along. Presidents, leaders of the military, politicians, celebrities of all sorts have encountered an event at some point in their life where they asked that question.
We, the American people, have asked that question as a nation, and as over 300 million individuals. Situations arise that may aggravate you, might make you look inside yourself, or make you question whether or not you should be doing, or not doing, what the situation demands. Why me? A veteran, lying in a hospital bed somewhere, realizing that for whatever has taken place, his or her life will never be the same, asks that question. Perhaps the question arises as he or she is leading a charge to the enemy, or their aircraft or ship has been hit and they suffered wounds. Veterans are almost traditional in their reluctance to discuss things they’ve been forced to do in order to survive, and at that point they ask themselves, “Why me?”.
So…why not you? Some of us Americans think that because we ARE Americans we should be exempt from taking part in world affairs. Then there are others that would say if not me, who…and if not now, when? You, and you alone, are truly responsible for your actions. Oh sure, you can say that you’re just following orders, or that you had peer pressure to do whatever it was that you did…but in the end, you must ask yourself “Why me?”. You’re not chosen out of millions to be a fall guy. You haven’t been picked out to be a sucker. No one has elected you to be the patsy.
For many years now, our armed forces have been all-volunteer so even the threat of the draft is not there. No one has had their number picked out of a big bowl, and realized that they may have to go fight a war…maybe lose a limb or two, or even their life. That’s a decision you make all on your own. That’s a decision that places you in the ranks of heroes. That’s a decision that answers the question of “Why me?”, and you know the answer…”Why not you?”
“I am super proud of being an American, but we fail our veterans every day.”– Laurie Halse Anderson.
I don’t know who that lady is, but that’s a good thought, and here’s another one…
As young West Point cadets, our motto was “duty, honor, country”. But it was in the field, from the rice paddies of Southeast Asia to the sands of the Middle East, that I learned that motto’s fullest meaning. There I saw gallant young Americans of every race, creed and background fight, and sometimes die, for “duty, honor, and their country”.
And my personal favorite…
A Veteran Is Someone Who, at one point, wrote a blank check made payable to “The United States of America” for an amount of “up to and including their life”. That is Honor, and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand it.
To the veterans who have asked “Why me?”, I think you know the answer…because it was the right thing to do. Some gave all…all gave some. Thank you for your service.