Happy Veterans Day America! Made an official holiday in 1919 by President Woodrow Wilson, it was first observed as Armistice Day in reference to the ending of World War I. It was later changed to Veterans Day in 1954, thereby honoring all veterans, not just those of WWI. A day to honor and give thanks to all our armed forces for their dedication, and for many, the sacrifices they make so the rest of us may live a life of relative freedom.
Working on World Tree Circle has encouraged our family to take a broader view on each holiday, each tradition, that we celebrate. How do other countries do it? Do they observe the holiday or tradition at all? So this Veterans Day I felt compelled to take a look at how the world feels about America, most specifically our military. I’ve been reading articles all morning to that end. We don’t own a TV in our house so we don’t watch the news on a regular basis. Rather, we gain our news from the web, our friends and family, and the local papers. I have gained the impression that America is not very popular, distrusted even, by some countries. So how do we really rate as a country based on our military? Out of 318.9 million Americans, at least 150,000 of those are US military stationed in more than 150 countries around the world (according to Wikipedia, US Military deployments). Whether at peace or in actively hostile places, they aren’t likely to go unnoticed and how they conduct themselves would be seen as a representation of their country. They aren’t just tourists, they hold a much higher responsibility.
I found the first article I read very interesting. We, and I say “we” in a very general way here, tend to look at each case of “to war, or not to war” very individually. On a case by case basis, rather than in a long term historical view. Which is how I would imagine other countries are more inclined to see it. We are taught to see similar foreign military campaigns that way, right? Through historical accounts on a grander view. Yet it does seem as though the United States decides based on how it will benefit us and others on the short term. Did you know that the US initiates a new military campaign roughly every 3 years?! And there are smaller incursions scattered between. I didn’t realize. I know there have been several in my relatively short lifetime but to read that was shocking. No wonder we are taken for a bully.
I was pleased, though, to read in another article that, according to foreign armed forces, our military is known for being generous, kind, and though some stated they thought US military acted a bit “cowboy” in their actions, they had had very positive experiences working with our armed forces despite some rather big differences in protocol and way of life. A few stated they hoped to have the opportunity to work with them again. If you’d like to read that article by James Pethokoukis, you can do so here. The comments get into a bit of an argument off topic but the article itself was very positive.
The numbers I found in a more statistical article didn’t give me the same impression. Especially with the recent hostilities taking place and our presence in the Middle East. That seems to have changed more minds about America in the last year. Overall, of the 24 countries surveyed (for this particular study) 17 of them had more than 54% of the population claiming a negative view of the USA. However, from what I see, it isn’t a reflection on our service men and women, but more on our government’s decisions and how they use our military that has caused us to decline in popularity with other countries.
This topic could keep a person busy for quite some time, if they really wanted to delve deep but for my purposes today I wanted to get a gist for how things look. So the conclusion I came to is this, whether you agree with the military actions taken by a country – any country, the men and women in the armed forces are due a fair amount of respect and gratitude for their service. They carry out orders from their government, upholding an oath to serve and protect their fellow countrymen at the very possible expense of their own safety and freedom, often without their family around to give them strength. Some here in the states have even gone to far as to refuse to follow orders that don’t hold true to the oath they swore. That takes a lot of love and dedication to your country and countrymen. I don’t agree with violence and bloodshed as a answer to any conflict, but I do support our troops in coming home and getting the help they need to live a healthy and full life. They do more than fight wars. Most of them have acted above and beyond what anyone could ask and I’m proud of them for being a good example for the rest of us. I am very, very grateful for the freedom my family and I have.
THANK YOU VETERANS, TODAY AND ALWAYS.