I have talked about the privileges that military personnel has in the US before, although I’d like to touch another part of this topic. During sporting events, there always seems to be an intervention where the camera on the screen focuses on somebody in uniform, while the stadium speaker announces the rank, previous missions and age of the man standing (or woman, but I haven’t seen that yet). Then the whole stadium gets up, cheers and gives the man a standing ovation.
Most women just drool and sigh when the man in uniform appears on the screen, but that's a whole other story.
It baffles me. I’ve got nothing against the military (I envy their benefits, but that’s besides the point here), but I feel the heroism is a little misplaced. Don’t get me wrong, I believe any army in the world can be a force that can do a lot of good, but there’s something weird about how America celebrates its defensive forces. Let’s face it: if you want to cheer to someone who has done a lot of good for your community, you wouldn’t immediately think of someone who did a lot of hard work establishing democracies in the Middle East, safeguarding innocent people abroad and kicking some bad guys’ asses that are mostly a threat to other countries. I’d think of doctors, teachers, firemen and the sort. Why not have the stadium speaker announce the following: ‘Ladies and gentleman, this year alone, doctor Bibber has saved the lives of twelve different kids. Please show your appreciation.’ I don’t want to question the hard work those men do, nor why they should do it, but why not shift among heroes? There must be more to choose from.
Who would you give a standing ovation to?
One of the things that feels typically American when coming to the States as a Dutchie, is that all of culture seems to be coated with militarism. A military ID can get you through airport security faster, gives you a discount here and there and soldiers in uniforms are sometimes greeted by strangers and thanked for the work they are doing. I even saw a painting at a fair, that portrait a G.I. with the wings of an angel attached to it. On top of that, I got an extra dose of it when visiting the Kansas City Baseball game (see: Baseball), but still, it is everywhere. The day I went to the game it was Armed Forces Day. Every minute between innings was filled with an extraordinary respect for the military in every form. Sometimes a livestream was shown of soldiers from Kansas City based in Afghanistan also watching the game. After every single notion of those soldiers, people would clap, cheer and even give them a standing ovation, because everybody wants to show their gratitude to their boys.
I didn’t really know how to react. Not because I have a strong opinion against the military or the heroism that Americans seem to attribute to them, it was just too new for me. I just did not get it. First of all: to fly all over the world to defend your country against some shepherds in the desert seems a little redundant. Of course, I admire the goodwill to change the world and make it a better place as a whole, but that is a quite another thing than defending a country that has been attacked just once in its entire history. When people were praising the defending qualities of the American military, I just wondered why they were spending all the money outside the country. Especially since they could really use it themselves; the second thing I couldn’t imagine cheering for. To summarize my view: the country with the least necessity for a strong, defensive military, seems to be proudest of its soldiers. I’m not saying it’s a good or a bad thing (although soldiers sent abroad need support), I can’t see why. Explanations are welcome.