By Col Dennis Acop (Ret)
The military is a calling like no other. The noble profession of arms it is called. And for good reason. First, it is all about honor. Second, it is about the greatest love of all. Third, it is the great enabler. And fourth, it is why you and I are still here.
The military is a calling that is all about honor. Honor is a very big word. But to the true military professional, it is the only word. To do what is right at all costs is never an easy task. Certainly not for the faint-hearted and coward who quickly acquiesces at the slightest sign of insurmountable odds. The military cannot be without honor. For the uninitiated, these are but some of the things that honor can do for the soldier. Honor prods a young man to serve his country when he can avoid it for safety and a higher pay. It continues to do so even when a middle-aged soldier has to raise a family and stand by his bride. Honor makes that soldier, a stranger to the public he serves, be willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice when his calling demands it. Just like that.
Honor makes the honorable man in uniform disdain dishonor. It makes him value meritocracy over dishonesty. Honor shuns corruption whether it be the allure of shining gold or the demise of good behavior. It says NO even when everyone else says YES to a filthy system that robs the profession of even the little honor it has left. Honor accepts death to self than be a party to cabalism that all but leaves the organization utterly destroyed.
The military is about the greatest love of all. Yes, the military is all about the use of combat power to annihilate an enemy. The military is the sole coercive power of the state that can be properly used in a just war. Or it can be likewise misused to serve the ego of one man. But the military has always been destined to be the defender of the defenseless, protector of victims, and the victor among the violent. In essence, it is the military that practices the greatest virtue there is that man is capable of. For it is the man in uniform who unhesitatingly surrenders his life that others may live. He is who loves the most. The one most deserving of Valhalla. As the Lord Himself cited that no greater love is there than one who lays down his life for his friends (John 15:13).
The military is the great enabler. It protects a nation’s sovereignty and safeguards its territorial integrity. It eliminates war thus allowing the citizenry to live in peace. By the efforts of a victorious army, the citizens are able to maintain their freedom, their way of life, and pursuit of happiness. Though forgotten by most, it was the heroism of soldiers who bought the liberty that now flourishes in every home, office, and institution. They were the blood of the martyrs, rotting corpses of slain soldiers, and tombs of unknown soldiers who enable us to live the lives we do today.
Finally, the military is the reason why you and I are here today. We beneficiaries of the soldier’s benevolence can just as well be Private Ryan visiting Captain Miller’s grave when prompted about how we lived our gifted lives. With every death comes the birth of new life. This is what the military gives the public it serves by the deaths of its sons and daughters in self-emptying love. It is a question each of us too should answer. And hopefully, answer well.