Wearing the Uniform Does Not Make One a Man

A young veteran recently posted on line, attacking men who have never worn the uniform and even suggesting the current President of the United States is a coward because he did not serve in the military.

First, I am from a military family: my father was career Air Force and served in two wars;  my husband was a Marine and gave his life for his men in Viet Nam, so my respect and love for military men and women is firm.  What I am writing about is the myth promulgated by some that if a man has not ‘served his country’ in uniform, he is not a man.  This myth even suggests a man should not become President of the United States unless he has worn the uniform; better still, served in combat over seas. 

Now, if  all men who serve are ‘real men’, then what does that say about the ‘men’ at My Lai, or about the ‘rogue’ sergeant who just massacred 16 civilians in Afghanistan, including 9 children; about numerous incidents of cruelty, savagery, rape, and murder committed by military men since the Etruscans.  Actually, what it says is that the military carries within it the same cross-section of human behavior as any other profession.  It is a job, perhaps a career; or even a calling; but it also has the same capability of hiding sadists, psychopaths, sociopaths, and–yes–cowards as any other field.

Regarding military service and the Presidency, apart from some possible concerns about a military presence in the White House, some Presidents who served were mediocre; some who did not serve were outstanding.  A simple search on the Internet will reveal those names and assessments by historians.  Our current President did not wear the uniform, but make no mistake he is the commander-in-chief; both he and his wife respect veterans and work for veterans’ benefits.  Additionally, I am conscious every day that President Obama has had a target on his back for years, yet still he continues to serve and to try to pull this nation together as much as the current political climate will allow.  He may not have known the rigors of combat experienced by the young veteran, but he serves his country in ways–and in danger–that the younger combat veteran will never know about, much less experience.

Here is the truth: there are good and gentle men in the military; there are heroes like Michael. There are also immoral men like Calley and the sergeant in Kandahar.  There are good and gentle men in civilian life; there are heroes like Michael.  There are also immoral men in civilian life as there are in the military. My point is simple: being a man comes from deep within; it is about character and upbringing.  Serving in the military may enhance character, but it no more makes one a man than it makes one a rogue ( just as it doesn’t make a woman a ‘real woman’ either).  Both strength of character and failure of character derive from a well-spring within the man, much deeper than the military ever instilled.  

A real man keeps his promises, takes care of his family, neighbors, and friends; he encourages and supports his loved ones in their own interests and even campaigns; he works hard, treats others fairly and with respect, is kind to those less fortunate.  A real man also sometimes is brave, at times with no training or protection; he may have to make a quick decision and do the best he can to save another, even if  he is injured or sacrifices his own life–he steps up because it is the right thing to do. Sometimes he wears the uniform; sometimes he has never worn the uniform. 

Above all,  whether in or out of uniform, a real man does not talk about what being a man is all about–he doesn’t have to.


The End of Right Wing Talk Radio??? | PlanetPOV

The End of Right Wing Talk Radio??? | PlanetPOV.

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