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What You Can Do for Your Country

At one time the method for keeping the armed forces supplied with young men was done with a draft in which some form of selection process required by law that young men just out of high school to join the military to serve a term of service. But in the 1970s, the United States moved to an all volunteer army and our nation has been defended by this type of military system ever since. The truth is that for decades, the idea of volunteering to serve a stint in the armed forces was never in question in households in America. Until the problems of the draft relative to the Vietnam conflict, in most homes in America, parents taught their youth that going into the military was the natural next step after high school but before going into college. Many older Americans today can remember learning from their parents that it is a boy’s civic duty to serve their country in the military and that becoming a proud member of America’s fighting forces is what truly gave a youth his credentials to be “a man”. While social change has reduced the awareness in the population that service in the military is actually the highest form of community service, the military continues to be a viable way that a young person can pay back this great country for the honor of their citizenship and start their lives as adults at the same time.

The problem with the perception that volunteering for military service is no longer a natural path of community service may come from the false perception that the military exists solely to fight wars. And while that is job one for any military unit, the ways that our military has been used especially in times of crisis to perform community service within the borders of this country has left a long history of achievement as its legacy. Any young person that wants to join an organization dedicated to the single minded pursuit of being of service to others cannot find a better place to do that than the various branches of the military. Because the military is generally well funded, well trained, housed full time in preparation for crisis and kept at a high state of train gin and readiness, they can be called into help out when the community finds itself in need. Each year as hurricane season hits us, you see the military respond heroically.

Nowhere was that more evident than the evacuations from New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina that just could not have been possible without the tireless work of the military. But their efforts to keep America safe from the inside as well as the outside doesn’t stop when the hurricanes slow down. Whether it’s a tornado in the Midwest, fires in the west, volcanoes in the northeast or any other disaster that might hit our population, the military always see to be the “first responders” to such crisis. This high calling of our military is even more evident in the reason for being of our various National Guard units. While it’s true that in the last few years, they have been needed with that difficult conflict we are facing in the Middle East, historically this has been a military force with the two pronged mission of protecting the population at the local level and helping out when the community has a need. It’s good to step back from our current view of the military because it can become distorted because of the emotions we all associate with the conflicts our country has been faced with in the last few decades. But getting a historic view and taking into account the heroic work all branches of our military have done to perform important community service at the local level, we can conclude that there is no better place for a young person to seek a way to follow that commission given by President Kennedy long ago to ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country. PPPPP 687 .


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