This Veterans Day remember those who served so that most don’t have to
WASHINGTON: On Veterans Day, November 11, it is the day to remember those who have served. I am proud to be a part of the one percent club. No, not an outlaw biker, rather a member of that one percent of Americans that have served in our armed forces. Yes, that is correct, only one percent of the total population of the United States has served in our military. And what that minuscule number has accomplished is phenomenal.
However, I’m getting ahead of myself. Because too many people have no idea what that one percent has accomplished.
By the way, that percentage number was not always so low, but it has almost never exceeded five percent. And that was done on purpose. Our founding fathers feared a large standing army. That is why they wrote the Constitution the way that they did. The militia phrase in the second amendment reflects the founder’s abhorrence to a large standing army.
The militia was the citizen soldiers that our founders envisioned. And what those militiamen accomplished was a miracle. Do not be fooled by amature or revisionist historians who tell us that the militia did very little to overpower the greatest army of its time, the British. What those numbers of farmers, clerks, apprentice tradesmen, and laborers accomplished was the miracle that became the United States of America.
In the proud tradition of the Minutemen of Massachusetts, our Continental Army was born.
They weren’t much better than the militia they replaced, other than that they were issued rifles and uniforms and had to serve an entire year. They couldn’t go home to plant or harvest their crops. But during that one-year enlistment, they turned from citizen-soldiers into soldiers. And those soldiers fought like nothing the Brits had ever encountered on European battlefields.
That Continental Army turned into the U.S. Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Space Force of today. Those six branches are fully supported by reserves and national guardsmen. And combined they are only one percent of the total legal population of the United States of America.
From 1775 until today our armed forces, militia, regular, reserves, and national guard, fought the wars that secured our independence, and maintained our freedom and liberty for 246 years, at home and abroad. Our first foreign war was against the Barbary Coast pirates that were seizing our ships, stealing their cargo, and selling the sailors into slavery.
Those Barbary pirates were our first interaction with Islam.
Several naval battles were fought, but an upstart lieutenant in the US Marine Corps gathered tribes opposed to the ruling sultan. Lieutenant Presley O’Bannon led a force of eight U.S. Marines and five hundred mercenaries consisting of Greeks from Crete, local Arab tribes, and Berbers, on a march across the desert from Alexandria, Egypt, to capture the Tripolitan city of Derna.
This was the first time the United States flag was raised in victory on foreign soil. The action is memorialized in a line of the Marines’ Hymn—”the shores of Tripoli”. The capturing of the city gave American negotiators leverage in securing the return of hostages and the end of the war.
However, acts of courage and independent thinking marked every victory America had won. It is the tradition that continued throughout the eastern Indian wars, the War of 1812, the Seminole Wars, right up to the tragedy of our Civil War. In that conflict, there was no lack of courage and independent thought on either side.
After that shameful chapter in our history, where brother fought against brother, this nation bonded as one once again.
Americans came together to fight the Spanish American War, the First and Second World Wars, Korea, Viet Nam, Gulf War One and Two, and the twenty-year War on Terror.
Throughout those trying times, only five percent, or less, of the population served in any position in our armed forces.
Since the end of the mandatory draft in the early 1970s, that number has fallen to only one percent.
And that one percent has carried the burden of maintaining the promise of our Constitution. While we sip our overpriced Lattes and enjoy the right to act stupidly in public in the name of diversity, or anything else we wish to call it, this one percent has placed itself in harm’s way in order to allow the rest of us the freedom to do whatever we want.
A gift from our 1%, That is what liberty and freedom are all about.
While some of us protest everything and anything, that one percent stands guard to make sure that we can act silly without risk of retribution from some dictator, tyrant, despot, or imperial ruler. Silently and in the background, yet forever vigilant, that one percent has given more than we will ever know.
From the freezing huts at Valley Forge through the winter of 1777, through the scorching jungles of Viet Nam and into the thin air of the mountains of Afghanistan, this one percent of our population stayed in the background, risking life and limb, so that we can pretend that our normal lives do not need their protection. That one percent is so far in the background, and so silent, that too many forget that the one percent is even there.
So, on Veteran’s Day, November 11th remember those who served this nation. From the old grey-haired Korean and Viet Nam vets to the wrinkle-free youth just returning from Afghanistan. Because without them America would no longer be the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.
To the One Percent, we thank you for your service.
About the author:
Political Staff Writer Joseph Ragonese is a veteran of the United States Air Force, a retired police officer, has a degree in Criminal Justice, a businessman, journalist, editor, publisher, and fiction author. His last book, “The Sword of Mohammad,” can be purchased at Amazon.com in paperback or kindle edition.
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