Meet Beth Ruby.
She’s my super cool, brave friend serving in the Air Force. Oh, and she’s pretty much the smartest chick I know, too. She wrote this post a while back, and I asked her permission to post it here. Want to know why I and so many others are proud to call her friend? Well, just read why she serves our country.
Guest Blog: Beth Ruby
“Why I Serve”
I have been asked numerous times by friends, family, and strangers why I chose military service. I always answered this question without thought; a sort of conditioned response that contained a very mediocre answer. I always thought that I wanted to serve to protect our freedoms, and because I wanted to be in the world’s greatest Air Force. While these reasons are worthwhile, they are not truly why I am called to serve. I gave these reasons because that is what everyone else says. The real reason, however simple, just became clear to me tonight as I watched footage from World War II.
In the not too distant past, America was called into a war of nations to protect the security and freedom of millions of citizens, both foreign and domestic. Fascist dictators were spreading their evil empires across continents. When America entered World War II, it was not to simply lend a hand. We knew that an outright defeat of these regimes was essential to the continued prosperity of every nation. The urgency and importance of this war was realized by almost all American citizens. Men set aside their goals and ambitions, and volunteered to fight; others were drafted to serve. Either way, these men were torn from their families, their careers, and every bit of comfort they enjoyed in America. They were thrown into one of the bloodiest and most devastating wars in history, and without hesitation, they fought and died. On the home front, every citizen gave up luxuries to support the war efforts. Items were rationed, women went to factories to work, and hundreds of families got letters each day explaining their loved one was killed in action.
The average American today has no concept of the sacrifices made by every person that was alive during those times. Only the eldest members of our society witnessed the extreme loss and suffering that took place during World War II. Sadly, the veterans that fought in World War II are nearing the end of their lives, and soon they will be only memories.
Not too long after World War II, America was forced to once again stop the spread of evil in both Korea and Vietnam. American citizens were torn from the comforts of home and whatever plans they had made for their lives. In both conflicts, these brave Americans were fighting with their hands tied. We sent them there to win, but did not give them the support they needed to do so. Thousands of Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, and Airmen died in these conflicts. Many others were taken prisoner, or were never accounted for. For hundreds of military members, returning from Vietnam was almost as difficult as fighting in country. Some have said it was even more painful. Unlike World War II, our fighters did not return to a grateful nation as heroes, they returned to quite a substantial number of protestors. Some of these protestors spat on them and called them “baby killers.”
Now that brings me to today. I am very grateful that I was born an American, and I am even more grateful for the brave men and women that came before me that made being an American so great. We are currently fighting in a very controversial war on terror, and American men and women are dying every day in service to our country. Just like in Vietnam, we are fighting a war that is not fully supported, and unlike World War II, our actions are governed more by public opinion than by public good. Americans sacrifice nothing in modern warfare. We still get to pump as much gas as we want into our Hummers, and it is completely cool to bash whatever leadership you want in the name of free speech. This is all fine, until you cross the line. In my opinion, you cross the line the moment you bash or blame the military. Remember that the San Franciscan sipping a latte has as much influence on foreign policy a the soldier in a hole in Iraq.
Finally, I have arrived at the reason why I chose to serve. Contrary to popular expression, I will not say that I serve to protect the rights of the very protestors that bash the military. This reason is very frequently used, but it carries little value to me personally. I would love to see the protestors try to hug a terrorist and use their infinite wisdom and logic to out reason a radical belief system. The real reason I chose to serve is simply to say thank you. Thank you to the millions of men and women who gave everything to give me something. No amount of words or gifts could ever convey my profound appreciation for those that fought before me. Hollywood has done a pretty good job of depicting some of the most memorable war stories. However, I do not consider my enjoyment of a movie as a sincere token of gratitude for the heroes depicted in it. Personally, the only possible way to express my thanks is by service. Although I am just one person, I am joining a great tradition, and a great symbol. The military is a group of individuals that collectively symbolize the very essence of freedom. I am about to begin a new course of training as an officer in the United States Air Force, where I will carry on and always remember the legacies of the heroes that came before me.
Thank you to all veterans, prisoners of war, those missing in action, Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Coasties, Reservists, Guardsmen, families of the military, civil servants, and every American that supports men and women in uniform!
Thank YOU Beth Ruby.