What It Truly Means To “Support The Troops”

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Support the Troops” is a popular patriotic catchphrase. By having that bumper sticker on your car, with the added emphasis of red, white, and blue colors, we can seek the validation from our peers that soldiers have our support. Standing with those bravely living and dying for our freedoms abroad is a noble task. But do we do this in spirit or just in words?

There’s only a small handful of days in a year that people thank a veteran for their service or kneel down before the grave of a lost soldier.

On Memorial Day, we have long parades featuring floats and flashy things that are irrelevant to the point of the day. After these parades, family and friends retreat to their homes and gatherings for cookouts. What a better way to enjoy a weekend?

Veteran’s Day is that one day where people will greet an individual wearing a “Vietnam Veteran” hat with a thank you and shake their hand. It’s the one day where people will post status updates thanking those who served for doing just that.

But what does it mean? In a lot of instances, it’s a mere shallow act to seek the validation from those around us that we did enough.

Are we supporting the troops by showing up at a town parade to wave our mini-American Flags and sing patriotic anthems? It’s not wrong, it’s just not enough.

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A soldier is someone who signed up to protect their country from threats foreign and domestic. They signed their life to the military with the understanding that their lives are secondary to the safety of the nation and that if the country called for it, they could be sent into combat. Here in combat, people die. Any soldier runs that risk of being one of the casualties.

This isn’t an easy thought to bear and some do it with that in mind because they feel it’s the right thing to do. Some are fortunate to come back in tact. Others return, but have psychological issues resulting from the traumatic experiences of war. Some are not even fortunate to come back at all.

What does it truly mean to honor these brave souls who give the ultimate sacrifice?

The ultimate sacrifice has a lot of real world effects. Families are affected when loved ones are sent faraway to fight a war or conflict that will become subject to global politics. It shapes global politics and can shake things up. That makes the soldiers targets in political struggles.

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Our Founders realized that not all war is just and reasonable. This is why the power to actually declare did not rest with any single individual. Under the Constitution, Congress declares war. This requires a thoughtful congressional debate as to whether or not these brave soldiers should be sent off into harm’s way.

Unfortunately, this no longer occurs. Soldiers are sent off into harm’s way without Congress even bothering to debate their involvement in a foreign conflict. A single human being can make the decision based on politics alone to send a soldier off to a foreign land to die.

How is this standing for our troops? How is this a show of support?

If we are to respect the military and show support for the troops, we must resist the urge to enter war easily. War puts these brave souls on a battlefield faced with possible death. While it’s something they all proudly accept when standing for America, it’s important for Americans to not allow them to be used for politics. Soldiers shouldn’t be sent into combat without a thoughtful debate and subsequent constitutional declaration by Congress. Soldiers shouldn’t be involved in a conflict that doesn’t affect American interests or threaten American safety.

Chris Dixon is a liberty activist and writer from Maine. In addition to being Managing Editor for the Liberty Conservative, he also writes the Bangor Daily News blog "Undercover Porcupine" and for sports website Cleatgeeks.