The American Warrior is a strange phenomenon in the history of the world. Most military men in history were out for fame and glory along with the acquisition of land conquest and war booty. Not so the American Warrior.
The other evening our church was hosting an early Thanksgiving dinner for the families and kids of those children who are involved in our Junior Jammer Program. Armando, a young man seated at a front table in the Fellowship Hall, saw me wearing my black leather Marine Corps jacket and asked me if I was a Marine. I mentioned I’d served in the Corps many years ago. He asked where I got the jacket. I told him it was available to those who were members of the Stockton Marine Corps Club. His sister then chimed in, saying, “He wants to go in the Marines!”
Well, the sister’s comment got my attention. I directed my gaze at Armando and asked him if this was true. He assured me it was. His mom was also sitting at the table, so I glanced at her to see if discussing this with her son was okay. Before she could say anything, the sister piped up again, telling the mom, “This is good for him to hear from somebody who knows about the Marines.” Mom reluctantly sighed in resignation. I was surprised to discover that Armando was only thirteen. He certainly was big for his age and did not look like a baby-faced thirteen-year-old. We talked for a while at which point I told him to keep an eye out for military recruiters on campus when he gets to high school. I then invited him to look me up when he’s seventeen if he still wants to go in the Marine Corps, but recommended he complete college first before signing up for the military.
This got me to thinking about the American Warrior: What makes this particular war fighter so different from other war fighters in history?
Here are some of my personal reflections on this issue which are in no particular order. First, the United States of America was founded on the basis of Freedom. This freedom was garnered through the bloody fighting that occurred during the Revolutionary War, 1775-83. Colonists first came to America to flee from the tyranny of British imperialism in the early 1600s. But the British throne followed these ex-patriots to the shores of the New World. Over the ensuing years, the colonists grew increasingly frustrated with an intrusive and abusive British master. The banner and slogan that I believe best depicts American resolve for independence and freedom is, “Don’t Tread On Me.” This is at the heart of the American Warrior spirit: Leave us alone! It was with this in mind that the Monroe Doctrine was established to protect not only the United States, but all of the Americas from European influence and dominance.
Second, Americans are content to live at peace with their neighbors. In the 233 year history of our nation we have often fought wars in various climes and places around the world. Yet, even though the adage is true, “To the victor go the spoils,” the American Warrior cares nothing for this. Land acquired through hard fought battle is returned by the victor (the American Warrior) to the one conquered (fill in the blank). Consider the Philippines. This island conglomerate was acquired by the United States as part of the surrender of the Spanish at the end of the Spanish/American War in 1898. The Philippines was then conquered by Imperial Japan in 1942. American forces liberated the Philippines three years later. Then in 1946, the United States gave the Philippines independence. In addition, Pacific Islands that American men fought and died for in World War Two were returned to Japan years later. This is particularly telling since two of those islands were very costly in American lives: Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
Third, Americans have a basic sense of decency which comes from the foundational teachings of the Bible and Judeo/Christian principles so derived. Not only do we value our own freedom and liberty, we encourage it in others. And as often as not, our American Warriors will quickly volunteer to fight for someone else’s freedom. This is why we see pictures of large numbers of American Warriors in Iraq and Afghanistan amassed for reenlistment ceremonies so they can continue to serve in those far off countries. They truly delight in setting others free from tyrants and thugs. With the Golden Rule as the backdrop, it is virtually impossible for the American Warrior to sit still when some other nation or people group is in trouble.
There are many more reflections on the American Warrior that I would like to expand for you which time and space will not afford just now. However, we’ve just celebrated another Veterans Day in America. Remember: it’s always the right time to offer a word of thanks to a veteran.
The American Warrior is one of the reasons America is a great country. Never forget that!