“If Not Me, Then Who?”

Poignant post as Memorial Day descends upon us. Hopefully a day of reflection, thankfulness and renewed courage and confidence.

You should read the whole thing (but keep the Kleenex handy), I’ll just go with the headline here:

Tom Manion: Why They Serve—’If Not Me, Then Who?’

I’m fairly certain that my fellow vets around here and, indeed, around the whole global brotherhood of warriors, have been asked or asked themselves the question “why did you volunteer?”

Much as I’d like to embellish it with phrases like “love of country”, “sense of adventure”, “duty” etc., all of them applicable to some extent, what it really boiled down to for me was that headline:

“If Not Me, Then Who?”

With the implicit understanding that, of course, somebody would have to go stand on that wall, and why should it be somebody else if you yourself was capable of doing the job?

Speaking for myself, there were no heroics involved, I just saw it as a necessary job, THE necessary job that needed, HAD to be done in order for our way of doing things to even hope to survive, and if not me, then who?

I could have opted out, with the number I drew in the lottery I was guaranteed to not see service if I so chose, and nobody would have held it against me.

Except for me. I would forever know that, choosing my option to NOT go, would force somebody else to go in my place. The quota had to be met. And for each one of us “freebies” choosing to volunteer anyway, some poor guy who really didn’t want to go would be released from that duty.

So that’s why I ‘volled’. I wanted to go, my family has a history of going, so why not? Again, it would save some poor slob who really didn’t want to or couldn’t go to embrace the suck.

Sure, words such as Duty, Honor, Country, Queen, G-d did play a part, but at the bottom line remained the headline for this post: “If Not Me, Then Who?”

So I took the step forward, not thinking so much about accolades and admiration, mainly thinking that “somebody who really didn’t want to now no longer has to worry about that.”

I hope he made the best of his life. I pray he did, because that would make it even more worth it, even though I’ll never know who he is. Which doesn’t matter. I don’t want his gratitude, I haven’t earned that, I just hope that he made the most of the other life he was granted. He deserves it. He was meant for other things, I’m sure.

And it was that right to pursue other goals which we were protecting, no?

Thatisall.

14 comments

  1. 1
    LC HJ Caveman82952 growls and barks:

    I had originally just e-mailed this to a few folks here. But after looking at the pics I have of past ceremonys……….and tomorrow I get to go….alone but I go anyway……..yesterday flags being planted on our main drag here, a hundred feet apart, and the cemetery will be covered with them, little kids planting flags,,,
    For this is my favorite, most revered holiday……….except for Easter……
    It’s old, yet true forever……to remember my dad, shot down, spending a year in a Hitler Hilton…he told me of the marches in the dead of winter….of jumping from a flaming B-17 going down for the last time…..
    A man names Joshua, a proud young Marine that never got to show me the Chevy Truck he wanted to get…….he left one of his feet in ‘Nam, the rest of him called Home on board ship……
    To those serving in harms way now, my friend Garys son, an army medic in Afghanistan…..to pray for his safe return, no doubt sadder but wiser…I’ve always had a soft spot, an enormous respect for medics, often the most dangerous job of all. I remember Alex as a baby, now he’s heavier than I am…….packing around only God knows what…..or who….
    Mary once told me there are things I never talk about, for she could sense it.
    And she was right……
    Where did the time go?
    I feel blessed I can attend the Memorial service here in our cemetery this Monday at eleven.
    To honor those having served and passed, and our war dead too….
    For the last two years I could not, you all know why…..
    But to these men and women, I can only offer a humble Thank You, for it’s all I have……
    I try to live up to their actions and gifts now….far better than before……to be the best I can be, to walk the talk, support their disabled brothers in arms, ….theirs a gift costing an eternity……
    So I could live a very short life…….
    As a free man..
    The guns in my safe mute testimany………..
    Let us never forget….
    For I won’t…
    Nor will I let it die as long as I live and breathe…..
    So to look at the Vet Memorial here in town………
    And how a small town in California remembers on Memorial Day…..
    And unlike myself, they are on one side of that Wall….
    And I am on the other…….
    But I remember Guys…I always will….
    Kent

  2. 2

    I did this colorization a few years ago as a favor to a friend. It has since turned into my tribute to our vets both living and dead.

    ” rel=”nofollow”> I will remember, and I will always be grateful

  3. 3
    Orion growls and barks:

    Nah, I joined up for the free chow and free clothes! 😀

    Orion

  4. 4
    VonZorch Imperial Researcher growls and barks:

    Why did we serve? If you have , and this includes those who stayed home to keep things going while their loved ones went, you already know. If you chose not to, you never will know.

  5. 5
    LC Sir Rurik, K.o.E. growls and barks:

    I always assumed I would go, some time or other. But at the end of 1968 I didn’t want to … not them. No, it was not fear, because I couldn’t really conceive of my own mortality. More the fact that at that age, neither could I conceive of my own morality either. Soldiering was too inconvienient, messy, and uncomportable. You could miss a meal, or a beer, or a hot date, or even what we now call a “choom”. And as I suspected, guys with beanhead cuts were considered socially uninteresting. I wanted to stay and party, attend grad school, and postpone reality. I also didn’t want to waste my time waging a war our leaders had decided they’d prefer to lose.

    But if I was not interested in reality, reality took an interest in me. In the form of General Louis B. Hershey, who sent me a personally signed letter informing me that I no longer qualified for student deferment, and though I could delay my induction by the appeals process, my appeal was guaranteed to be rejected, after which they would draft my ass. Or more formal words to that effect.

    While evaluating my options, I was persuaded to apply to the Peace Corps and was accepted. Haaving that bluf called, I realized that the thought of serving in the Peace Corps was a shame I just could not swallow. That was just as bad a fleeing to Canada or Sweden. A semi-pretty young hippie chick urged me to go to jail, and promised to write me if I did. :em06: All the arguments and options were clear. I knew what to do.

    I enlisted as the only honorable way to beat the draft. Sortly afterward, I cast my first vote – for Nixon.

    Postscript. It turns out it was the best thing that ever happened to me. It deflected me from the path I was traveling and kept me from turning into hippie scum.

  6. 6
    Mark12A growls and barks:

    If you’ve served, you don’t need to ask why.
    If you never have, you can never understand the reason.

    All those who have gone before us are waiting for those of us who remain to make the trip.

  7. 7

    Indeed, Sire, indeed. If not me, who?

  8. 8

    sorry to desecrate this thread with this, but this little pud can’t even summon the moral courage to call our fallen soldiers heroes

    jeeeezus Christ, what a squish Chris Hayes is,

  9. 9
    LC HJ Caveman82952 growls and barks:

    I saw that Jaybear…my first thought…”You pathetic little cretin, metrosexual mother——–“

  10. 10
    LC Gunsniper growls and barks:

    Chris Hayes should be squished.

  11. 11
    LC Sir Rurik, K.o.E. growls and barks:

    Jaybear, Colonel of Imperial Ancient Artillery @ #:8
    Of course he is uncomfortable, and properly so. He is not, never was, and never shall be of their company. I feel awkward in the presence of the true heroes. And that wimpy metrosexual must stand in equal awe of the great majority of us on the periphery.

  12. 12
    LC HJ Caveman82952 growls and barks:

    This ingratiating, pseudo educated fop is beng ripped a new asshoe in the blogosphere. I am enjoying it.

  13. 13

    I never made the conscious decision as an adult to join. Didn’t have to as it was the course I had been on since I was 5 years old. See, as a 5 year old I wanted to be President. If you went to West Point you became a 5 Star General. Five star generals became President. Pretty simple right? Then when I was six I saw a photo of the Marine Corps Silent Drill Team and they had M-1 Garands. And I thought M-1’s were cool. Since the Marines still carried M-1’s I decide I was joining the Corps. Simple.

    As I matured I of course learned, a lot. Especially after I met my uncle, 26 year Marine vet of WWII and Korea. But the decision had been basically made when I was five. Everything I learned about service, duty, honor; it all served to cement the decision that serving my country was the only choice there was for me. Nothing else ever crossed my mind, let alone held any appeal.