Military necessary for freedom

Matt White

Thinking about our Constitutional rights is important, and hopefully my last several columns have stimulated some debate. But, in our zeal to analyze our freedoms, we need to remember why we’re free in the first place: the United States Military.

One of the world’s greatest defenders of freedom, Winston Churchill, made the observation, “We sleep peacefully in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.”

His words remain true today.

As college students, the real world may seem too far away to worry about. We’re comfortable in our daily lives. We’re preoccupied with adding up classes to earn degrees, working, internships and going to parties. But, the only reason that we’re able have the lives we do is because of the sacrifices of people we’ve never met.

On the outside, many of these young men and women don’t look much different than us, but they’ve done something incredibly noble; they’ve put their personal lives on hold to serve their country. They joined because of Sept. 11, or because serving is an important part of their family’s history, or because they saw it as a way to better themselves with educational benefits. It doesn’t matter why they joined — it matters what they’re doing for all of us.

Set aside whether or not you believe the conflict with Iraq has helped secure our Constitutional rights, and recognize the military at-large has consistently done so by keeping us safe from foreign invaders. If America didn’t have a history of a strong military, then it’s unlikely that America would still stand as a nation today. The world wars of the previous century certainly would have done us in. All of our military men and women deserve our respect, regardless of what you think of our leaders.

The men and women serving in Iraq are doing a noble thing – giving their all to provide domestic security for a nation grappling with democracy and freedom. We don’t hear often enough about their bravery in the face of danger.

An example of that courage can be found in Sgt. First Class Benjamin L. Sebban, who warned the members of his Army patrol of a flatbed truck speeding toward them. The truck bed was packed with explosives, and when it exploded, a 50-foot-wide fireball slammed into the soldiers. The soldiers were tossed into walls and windows and battered by pieces of brick and glass turned into shrapnel. Sebban, unaware of his own injuries, staggered to his first-aid station to treat his fellows soldiers. Later, he collapsed and bled to death before the evacuation helicopter arrived to carry him home.

Sebban’s bravery should be an example for all of us; it’s men and women like him who provide us with the safety blanket necessary for us to lead our daily lives. Foreign powers and terrorists the world-over know there’s certain things Americans consider worth dying for — freedom, democracy and our fellow citizens.

Matt White is a senior magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].