Veterans Day: Honoring service too few will ever understand

Veterans Day: Honoring service too few will ever understand

Veterans Day: Honoring service too few will ever understand

A long-running series of TV commercials intended to boost the U.S. Armed Forces’ recruiting numbers underscores the fundamental lack of appreciation too many modern Americans have for the unique role of our military and, more importantly, the magnificent sacrifice made not only by those who serve but also the loved ones whose unflagging support makes it possible.

Precisely the values we honor on this Veterans Day.

The ads, which have been around since 2005, depict prospective recruits having an imaginary conversation with one or both parents apparently trying to overcome their reservations.

“Are you sure this is what you want?” asks one father in a doubting voice.

In another, a young man implores his skeptical mother, “Mom, you know how I love … the environment. I can be part of an environmental response team working on oil cleanups and stuff. So what do you think?”

The ad campaign, according to its producers, deliberately targets parents — most of whom, statistics show, never served in the military themselves and may need to be sold on the idea.

This is wrong on so many levels.

For starters, the members of America’s military are grown adults who don’t need their parents’ permission to make this important decision in their lives any more than warriors in previous eras did. Their blessing, certainly, but not their permission.

Nor do they require an expensive ad campaign to intercede on their behalf in such discussions.

More to the point, the whole tone of the ads suggests parental misgivings might just be warranted.

It’s an ironic — and wholly inconsistent — position to take when the objective is to encourage young people to join up, not give voice to anxiety that likely don’t exist in the first place.

Despite what the elitists who dominate so much of the national conversation believe, the overwhelming percentage of parents in flyover country still regard military service as an honor and a privilege, and would be proud beyond measure to learn their son or daughter was contemplating enlisting.

And no one has to sugarcoat the nature of that service, either.

Like countless generations before them who watched as their beloved soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines willingly departed for France, Germany, Italy, North Africa, Japan, the Pacific Islands, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and dozens of other trouble spots around the globe, today’s military parents know full well the risks that come with the job.

And with that understanding, their pride in the young men and women willing and eager to take it on is only magnified.

There are countless valid reasons why any American would be humbled to add his or her name to the endless ranks of those who’ve served, fought and, when necessary, died to preserve the freedom and values we hold dear.

As has been true since the formative days of this nation, its military is the finest on earth. Ours is the best-trained, best-equipped, best-educated and most motivated fighting force in the planet’s history. Our freedom is safeguarded by strong, proud, accomplished professionals, and the best way to recruit the next generation is by keeping standards high and demanding those who serve continue to exceed them.

On this Veterans’ Day, we honor those whose only question when they answered the call was whether they were good enough for the military, not the other way around. Let it always be thus.

Vice President for News and Information
Jeff is a native of West Virginia and a graduate of West Virginia University with a degree in journalism. He served in the U.S. Army at Fort Lewis, Wash., as a broadcast journalist and has worked at a number of newspapers in West Virginia and Washington. Most recently, he spent 11 years as editor of the Port Orchard (Wash.) Independent, which earned the 2011 Washington Newspaper Publishers’ Association’s General Excellence Award as the top community newspaper in Washington. Previously, he was editor of the Business Examiner newspaper in Tacoma, Wash., for seven years. Jeff lives in Lacey; he and his wife have grown twin daughters.