They traced their family history back to the Revolutionary War. Fighting to have control over their own lands. A rebellion against taxes. A colorful family history, if the colors were Red, White and Blue. They were a Star Spangled bunch. Generation after generation enlisting in the armed services. They had them all. Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force even a cousin in the Coast Guard who the rest of them teased.
Many had enlisted. They had a generation that had been drafted as well. Many who came home from wars came home wrong. Not complete. Physically or mentally. Even those that served in times of peace changed while they were serving. Trying to explain to families that did not have the tradition of service was impossible. They didn't understand why you would do a hard, dangerous, job for very little money. They were looked down on as probably not very smart.
Then 9/11 happened. Suddenly everyone was supporting the troops. Suddenly everyone understood how important service to the country was. Not enough to join, but they understood. It was still the same families with the history of service that carried the load. And the families without other options. Join the military, see the world. Or at least a small corner of it. See things that cannot be unseen.
If they were in uniform they were thanked. If someone asked about their time in the military they were thanked. They got discounts at the movies. A free piece of pie on Veteran's Day from the local bakery. They all laughed about it. Basic training was totally worth it just to get that piece of pie. A year in Afghanistan was cleared away because of the $2 discount to see the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie. BUT only if you had your active duty ID, let's not get crazy.
Let's not get crazy.
It was still the Star Spangled Families that carried the burden.
It was still the families with no other options that filled the ranks.
It was still the gold plated tin stars in Washington who decided where to send them.
Places they themselves would only go with a full military escort in and out as fast as they could. Shake some hands. Nod their heads. Hide behind their helmets and flak jackets. So grateful to the Troops. Now get me back to Washington where I can show this video and call myself a true patriot.
But they tried not to be bitter about it. They understood that it is through the blood of patriots that the tree....however the fuck that saying goes.
Why were the ones sending them to die trying to claim the mantel of patriot while they were just boots on the ground? Just the troops. Thank you for your service.
For your sacrifice.
Star Spangled Gold Star Families.
But they traced their family back to the Revolutionary War. They understood. They served.
Thank you for your service...