NORMAN — The old Christian hymn “Blest Be The Tie That Binds” refers to a bond which unites believers in a common faith. On Veterans Day, we recognize another bond, a bond of patriotism that should always bind Americans together as a people.
One of the fundamental foundations of a sovereign nation is the maintenance of a standing military, which at the very least defends the country against attack. In our history, our civilian-controlled military has often gone far beyond this most basic function to come to the aid of other countries and peoples threatened by evil forces they were unable to resist by themselves.
Unfortunately, our world has been and remains a dangerous place, and all too often, members of our armed forces are called upon to risk their lives to fight aggression against ourselves or others. We are not all expected to perform these dangerous tasks. It falls to the military to go into harm’s way or stand ready to do so. Just as police and fire personnel perform similar tasks domestically, when the military is called, it is they — not we — who go.
The American military, of course, is not just made up of branches and subdivisions. It is composed of individual men and women with families back home. It is the loved ones of these families back home who have been and will continue to be called upon to face danger on our account and on behalf of people of other countries. All of them are part of a shield of protection, and some pay the ultimate price to protect us, protect our way of life and protect others around the globe.
That there have been controversies about U.S. military activities only tells us that military intervention is and should be a matter of great debate. That there have been dark pages in our history only tells us that countries, like people, are not perfect. It is, however, overwhelmingly true that American military power has been a monumental and indispensable force for good in the world for a century.
It is frightening and sobering to contemplate what the condition of the United States and the rest of the world would be without the efforts of the American military. The sacrifices of the American war dead and those of our allies were the painfully essential ingredient required to keep the United States and many other countries incalculably better off than they would have otherwise been, indeed if they had continued to exist at all.
Any small gesture or token that we offer today to those who have served, those who currently stand ready to defend us, our fallen heroes and their families maintains this irreplaceable tie that binds us together as Americans and solemnly recognizes a debt that we can never repay.