It is the Soldier poem

An anonymous reader writes:

I recently read the poem "It Is the Soldier". The version on this website is somewhat shorter than the version I read originally, which was part of a Power Point Presentation called Screen Heroes.

There is no disputing that our freedoms were first won by soldiers who fought to liberate us from British rule, and that it is our soldiers who continue to defend & protect our nation from outside forces that might threaten our lives & freedoms.

I honor & respect those brave soldiers who have given their lives to defend our nation, however, I also think it is important to point out that it goes both ways: Yes, we need soldiers, but we also need a free exchange of ideas, & the rule of law. Each of these 3 elements is equally important; each leans upon the other. Take any one away & the structure of Democracy would collapse.

The version of the poem that was in the Presentation I watched contained the following lines, which I find disturbing: "It is the soldier, not the President, who gives us Democracy. It is the soldier, not the Congress, who takes care of us."

It concerns me that these lines almost seems to identify the military alone as giver of our freedoms, to set the military above all else in importance, and to encourage loyalty to the military in and of itself, instead of loyalty to the Constitution & government that the military exists to serve & defend.

This can be a dangerous concept. Taken to its furthest extreme it can justify a military coup d'etat, and we have seen again & again that such coups lead to dictatorship, not to anything remotely resembling Democracy. History also tells us that one of the things that brought about the downfall of the Roman Empire was a tradition of loyalty of soldiers to their generals rather than to the government of their country.

I thank the soldiers who have served & continue to serve & protect our country & our liberties. But I also believe it is crucial that Americans remain loyal to & respectful of the framework of government we have, regardless of whether one agrees with a particular President, Senator, Representative or other government official, or with whatever political party is currently in power. Our military is an important defender of our democratic way of life, but it is only as good as the government, laws & ideals that it serves.

Thanks for joining our conversation.

I think the lines to which you object were inartfully added by someone other than the author of the original poem, because they don't "fit" with the rest of it.

The poem is simply reminding us that we need to encourage, support, and appreciate our military members, because without those (all volunteers) willing to sacrifice to protect and defend our freedoms, we may lose our democratic way of life.

In that sense, the military is the most important, because without it, the rest is vulnerable. Without their defense of it, our Constitution becomes nothing more than a piece of paper. Remember that our military officers' oath of office requires them to support and defend the Constitution, not "the government" or the President.

It is truly because of those men and women who volunteer to serve in our military, which is only 1% of our population, that the other 99% are able to enjoy their freedoms. The 99% who are getting essentially a free ride need to recognize and appreciate their service, not be denigrating and harassing them, as protesters often do.

Our vets returning from Vietnam were shown contempt and disrespect by the ungrateful few, and it is a bitter memory for them. They answered the call to serve their country, and did so honorably, and have never understood the contempt shown them. It is largely due to their efforts that the service and sacrifice of today's military members, and the need for appreciation of them, is being kept in the public eye.

So the next time you see a service member, please take a moment to say "Thank you for your service."

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