A few weeks ago, people targeted my family because of our adopted (black) daughter. They went through our photos on Facebook and made fun of our photos — even making white nationalism memes out of our family photos.
One other thing they did? They found a photo of David when he was in Iraq and made fun of it. David writes about this on National Review:
To be honest, I was embarrassed. It was snapped minutes before I boarded a CH-47 Chinook helicopter to begin my deployment to Forward Operating Base Caldwell in Diyala Province, Iraq. I’m facing the camera, awkwardly holding my M4 carbine (unloaded — all our rifles were unloaded at that moment), with a look that is best described as a combination of frightened and confused. To a public used to seeing heroic images of special forces operators — people like Chris Kyle as portrayed in American Sniper or Marcus Luttrell as portrayed in Lone Survivor — well, I was not that guy. I was a rookie, one part soldier, three parts Gomer Pyle.
Upon reflection, however, my attitude changed. I looked at the picture and felt just a tiny bit of pride. Yes, I was a rookie. No, I had no idea what awaited me. And I was hardly the guy you wanted to lead a raid into an al-Qaeda safe house. Nor was I the first face you’d want hovering over you if you were wounded, but I was there. I showed up, and — like 96 percent of my fellow post-9/11 veterans — I was proud of that fact. Like my ancestors before me — from Valley Forge to the Civil War to World War II — I was a citizen-soldier, an average person trying my best to honorably serve the country I love.
As his wife, I can attest to the rollercoaster of emotions he went through — and our family went through — as he moved from his desk job to the war zone. I’ve never been more proud to be his wife.
Since so few people make this decision to join the military — only one-half percent of the population is on active duty — we often, as David writes, “lose sight of how normal soldiers are, how much they’re simply ordinary people who’ve made one extraordinary choice: to volunteer to defend a nation at war.”
For many conservatives, the veteran is the warrior-hero: the bold and brave guardian of our democracy. For many liberals, the veteran is the hero-victim: the brave but damaged casualty of misbegotten wars. For the radical, the veteran is the mercenary-killer: the deadly racist who spews hate and gunfire at the historically marginalized brown people of the Middle East — the vicious instrument of Halliburton, Exxon, and, worst of all, Zionist Israel.
In reality, the veteran is so much like you that it’s almost disappointing. They have stories, yes, and many suffer the deep pain of loss, of fallen comrades and broken families. Others have shown courage that even they have trouble comprehending. But they’re standing in line next to you opening night at Star Wars, just as eager to see the new broadsword-style Sith lightsaber in action. They’re at the other table at Cracker Barrel, struggling just as hard to control an unruly toddler. Or they’re working next to you, just as stressed by the job as you are. Yes, they faced IEDs, but bad performance reviews ruin their week just like they ruin yours.
For those who have the privilege of knowing David in real life, you know that he’s a “normal guy.” Well, if you can call playing Warcraft every Tuesday night and loving the Memphis Grizzlies so much that he wore a knitted Grizzlies stocking cap to a meeting with a senator “normal.”
“On Veteran’s Day, I think of the great heroes of American history — people such as Chris Kyle or Alvin C. York — but I think more about the guys I served with, the ordinary men who made that one extraordinary choice,” David writes. “Our nation exists because of people like that. Our nation endures because of people like that. I’m proud to have been in their ranks, and I’m grateful to have had the chance to serve the ordinary hero, the citizen-soldier, the men and women who depart from the routine to risk everything for the nation they love.”
Read why my Harvard educated husband decided to join the Army and go to war in our Kindle book: