There are a lot of people who are more qualified to write this article. I just wanted to offer my simple and heartfelt thanks to the men and women who serve our country in the armed forces.
In our little Notre Dame bubble, we sometimes forget about the outside world. Perhaps this is a hideous claim, but I know that personally I rarely thought about the military men and women except when the respected ROTCs would dress in uniform for inspection days.
I also didn’t grow up like a lot of students here thanking every person in uniform. I’d like to make the excuse that I grew up near an army base so that I would be saying it a lot, but in reality it was that war was really only on my radar for history class. Sure, in Mass there would always be a prayer for the military amongst the prayer of the faithful and on Thanksgiving people would send food to base or open their homes to soldiers. At Christmas time at school we were asked to make and send cards to soldiers in Afghanistan. I even had friends in the JROTC but the reality of their undertaking seemed distant and somehow removed from my day-to-day experiences. Maybe it’s the selfish need to not feel like a terrible person but I think that’s true for a lot of people. Unless you have a close family member or a really close friend or loved one in the armed services, it can be terrifyingly easy to forget about how much they sacrifice.
I’m not saying that you have to agree with the politics of the military or even with the way that they conduct themselves. I know as a Peace Studies major I often find difficulty with my desire for peace and my support for the military. In the United States, it can be difficult to separate patriotism from speaking out in support of peace. However, at the end of the day, that’s not what’s important.
You don’t have to be an expert in military operations to thank a solider for his or her service, and you don’t have to know all of the distinct military branches to appreciate that a sailor travels far from family and home. You don’t even have to be the most patriotic person to respect the courage it takes to be an airman.
It is not necessary to be a part of the “we wear RED” movement to know that a marine has seen some things and sometimes just needs a smile. You don’t have to be moved to tears by taps to acknowledge a member of the coast guard. All it takes to thank the armed forces is to do just that: thank them. Nothing is too small, nothing is too silly. Sometimes the simplest thank you is enough.
Somewhere in the country today there stands a small group of people solemnly promising that they will serve their country. Some of them are enlisting, which means they will listen and obey a person they do not yet even know. As members of the Notre Dame community, whether it be from smiles, simple thank you’s or even just attendance at memorial events, we can encourage the future officers in our midst and also show the veterans or those currently serving that we do not take their sacrifices for granted. These people make many sacrifices and few are brave enough to step forward and undertake them.
Join the University of Notre Dame Army, Navy and Air Force ROTC units in honoring veterans at a special ceremony following the 24-hour watch of Stonehenge. The ceremony will take place on Wednesday at 5:00 pm. The half-hour ceremony will be addressed by Notre Dame alumnus and veteran James W. Wagenbach. The event is standing room only.