One of the popular postings on FaceBook features a depiction of Jesus along side another of a soldier. The caption reads along the lines of “One was willing to die for your soul, the other to die for your freedom.” It’s meant to offer public tribute to members of the armed services who go in harm’s way, but it’s also terribly deceptive, inclined to perpetuate the myth that America’s armed forces exist only to protect our freedom. Leaving Christ out of it for the moment, let’s take a look.
We have been at war for a long time. Apart from the War of Independence, the War of 1812, the Civil War, and WWII, it’s hard to come up with one, including any of our current wars that have had anything to do with protecting our freedom. They have had much to do with global politics, what some call “Real Politick,” the use of military force at the cost of lives, both civilian and military, to position one nation for favorable advantage against other nations. The current world environment also has us positioning and repositioning against insurgent groups of one kind or another that appear to have no national loyalties, but are fanatical about particular causes. There is no question that they can pose a threat to our safety, but not, in and of themselves, to our freedom. We do that all by ourselves to ourselves.
I suggest that there are better ways to honor those who serve in our armed forces.
Most important, we can honor them best by not engaging in unnecessary wars.
We can honor them for doing their duty with honor and courage as they were called to do it.
We can honor them for enduring tour after tour of emotional and physical brutality.
We can honor them with a super abundance of help, in whatever form, as they reenter civilian life.
In an odd way, we can honor them by censuring those who dishonored their service and their nation by their actions.
We do not honor them by pretending that they are an adjunct of the Christian faith. We do not honor them by romanticizing war.