I have been rewatching HBOs excellent "John Adams" and have been struck by how little real sacrifice most of us make for our freedoms in our lives.
Adams spent more than half of his marriage apart from his beloved Abigail for the country he loved as much. Most of the founders lost some or all of their fortunes — many their lives.
Throughout the decades men just as brave have stepped up and — as an Internet acquaintance of mine puts it — "written a blank check, payable to the American People for an amount up to and including their lives."
Every day for more than 10 years now, young men — aye, and a few young women — have come home missing limbs, with traumatic brain injuries that have left their personalities radically different from what their loved ones remember, with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder making it difficult to function or any or all of the above.
Many have come home in a box.
Their families, too, have sacrificed. Time apart. Children who were born while Daddy was away and don't know their own fathers. Wives and husbands whose spouses returned changed. Widows and orphans who will never again feel the embrace of a loved one.
Most of us look at this economy and consider it a sacrifice if we have to give up our double mochachino-short-soy latte.
We whine that the price of gas is too high, or that we have to put up with a toxic coworker. That our wives don't understand us, or we didn't get a raise this year — and we call it stress and make jokes about PTSD.
The crybabies of the Occupy Movement complain they have to pay back their student loans, or that they can't find a job doing Underwater Saharan African basket weaving that pays $100,000 a year.
Meanwhile young men about the same age have forgone the parties and the bull sessions, fraternity rush and homecoming.
No, they're doing a different kind of studying. They learn how to kill, and then do it. They learn how to survive when being shot at, and then do so.
They put their lives on the line. Not for themselves. But for their buddies, primarily, but for us as well.
When they return home, they're all too often ignored or used as political footballs.
When is the last time you saw a Memorial Day parade in a major city? I tried to remember the other day and came to the conclusion my dad was still alive the last time we watched one on TV, so it must have been more than 30 years ago.
When is the last time you walked up to a vet and sincerely thanked him for his sacrifices? Bought him a meal? Paid for his gas at the filling station?
When is the last time as a nation we really paid homage to those "rough men" who keep us safe in our beds because they "stand ready to do violence on our behalf?"
Until we understand that sacrifice, we will never be worthy of it.
All IMHO, of course.
— Patrick Richardson is the managing editor of the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.