Friday Firesmith – Rights

When I was in the Army, they woke me up at three in the morning to search my barracks room for drugs. The barracks were not the type you see in movies, where there are lines of bunks with wall lockers and bare floors. We had a three-man room, with three bunks and three wall lockers. The carpet was thin and stained, but we did have heat and air conditioning. We were allowed one poster, and mine was a calendar marking off the days before I had served my time.

But at three in the morning, I was told not to move, hands where they could see them, don’t get up, and a squad of men in uniform with two German Shepherds came to see what we were hiding. I was making four hundred dollars a month. I’m not sure what sort of drug habit I could afford, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t going to go much worse than sniffing Elmer’s glue. One of the dog’s keyed on one of my roomie’s wall locker. The let me get up and unlock my wall locker, as did my two roomies, and we were told to get dressed. This meant in uniform, and it also meant right now. We were led out into the common area of the barracks, and there we waited, one by one, as they led each of us in, went through our lockers, and questions us about the drug habits of our roommates. After they discovered the dog was wrong, we were told to go back into our rooms and wait. There were a lot of MPs and a lot of dogs, and they searched our entire company for drugs. They busted three guys, all for enough pot for a couple of decent joints, but they also found a guy who had a .38 pistol in his locker.

The irony of the Army discharging someone for having a gun was not lost on most of us.

Some of the guys bitched about the raid, but I remembered signing away my life when I joined up. I had whatever rights the Army decided I had. And that’s the way it has to be, too. A military protects Democracy but cannot afford to practice it. Once you put on that uniform, and until you take it off, you swore you’d put up with a lot of crap, and even shoot people you aren’t mad at or even know. Or get shot. I signed up knowing this, accepted it, did my time, and got out.

You have rights because men and women in uniform keep the peace. They have fewer rights than you, but here’s the thing, and it’s what I’m getting to with all of this: The people in uniform, they have fewer rights, and they have fewer responsibilities. They don’t worry about food or housing, or medical care, as a general rule. They don’t decide where they will live, what country or what state, and they signed up for this. They accept it because they believe service is worth it.

Americans have freedoms but they seem to have forgotten responsibility goes with that power. They seem to think that having individual rights means it all one person getting as much as they can, regardless of what it costs anyone else. The irony of the selfless surrendering everything to serve the selfish who refuses to give anything seems lost on a lot of Americans these days.

Take Care,

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit. Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.


17 thoughts on “Friday Firesmith – Rights”

  1. Mike, I have shared this post to my Facebook, because I have been struggling to find a way to get the selfish people who choose to say that wearing masks, social distancing, etc. is against their human rights. Your words have really hit the nail on the head…

    • Barry, it was an honor to serve this nation, and to wear that uniform. I never felt particularly useful, and I never did anything that earned me a medal for being brave or rescuing my fellow soldiers under fire. I never had to go to some other country and fight a war, or liberate a town from Nazis.

      But once you’re a soldier you do understand why men, and women, would do that, once they take that oath, and put that uniform on.

      That oath binds me still. I said it and I meant it.

      • Mike, I have thanked many veterans for their service. Most respond with some form of “you’re welcome” from just a nod to an occasional tear. Very rarely do they say “it was an honor.” Those are the men I admire most! So thank you for serving honorably as an ordinary man doing ordinary things in service to our country!

        • Barb, I love this country. It’s not perfect, it’s never been perfect, it may never be. But right now, at this very moment, it’s worse in ways I have never experienced. I keep thinking that American thing will kick in, where we all pull together, and show up.

          But we aren’t.

  2. Well written article, expressing the way most of us ‘veterans’ feel. However, I do not equate giving up our rights in the military to the present day requirements (mandates) of wearing a mask. IN MY OPINION, the hysteria surrounding COVID19 is ninety percent politically motivated by Socialistic/Marxist minded individuals in and out of government who desperately wish to see America fail (or fall).
    I look forward to reading your columns every Friday, even though I don’t always agree with you. You do, at the very least, give me food for thought. Carry on …….

    • Emmette, I’m a Socialist.

      I believe our tax money ought to cover fire departments, police departments, public schools, colleges, health care, parks, roads and bridges, and NASA.

      I also think we ought to bring back the draft so that everyone who graduates from high school can spent three years in the uniform, in some way.

    • Mike won’t say it but I will, you comment trivializes the deaths of >165,000 Americans. It trivializes the sacrifices of our healthcare first responders, nurses, and doctors. Many of these healthcare workers have worked since March without a full day off. Many have given their lives trying to save others. Selfish, conspiracy theorist like you have made a public health crisis a political issue, not the other way around.

    • Actually, there’s a bit of truth in that. Giving up one’s rights once joining the military does not equate to wearing a mask. One does not lose a right in wearing a mask. What it does say, is a person who wears a mask loves the country so much, they are willing to live with a minor inconvenience to help save the lives of fellow Americans. It’s a show of respect. It would seem that respect and patriotism is lost on some after they leave the military and fall to the wayside replacing it with a clear case of overt sociopathic beliefs that rely on ignorance and hate to capture those frightened minds.

      I do find it ironic that any vet would disparage socialism since they are a product of the most socialist program this country has to offer. Society pays their for salary, housing, food, clothing, education and then also pays for their medical needs after they leave via the VA. To be against socialism after serving is to say you hated your time in the military and in turn serving your country. Which in the end translates to one hating their country.

      So, I find it fair to question one’s claim of others’ desire to see their country fail over others who still have regard to being a part of this country rather than a separate entity of this country built on a empty threat of self-entitlement they have not earned.

      • And to clarify, socialism and Marxism are not always hand-in-hand. Marx was pushing for a government built totally on socialist ideas. Here in the US, socialism is a matter of programs and some services. Maybe some people are bad at seeing the obvious, but socialism in its most basic form are benefits for people by the people. Perhaps if some people took a remedial course in civics, they would learn that our government is the people and our government exists because of the people, to serve the people. That’s pretty socialist thinking those founding fathers had.

  3. Mike you were fortunate you only had to put up with the army’s crap, and not shipped out to some politician’s pissing match around the world. That’s been going on for all but less than 20 years of US history.
    I appreciate that I’ve benefited a great deal from the US Armed forces, as every citizen has.
    But I feel appreciating the sacrifices of the people that served, does not automatically condone the things they were ordered to do.
    It certainly has not been truth, justice, and the American way each time… well maybe the American way but truth and justice have been pretty fuzzy at times.

    I have self evident inalienable rights that must not be infringed upon.
    The gumint is building a wall around them to protect me.
    There, now I’m saf… hey, wait, I’m penned in by other peoples rights.

  4. I agree on the draft, it would make a huge difference I think.

    I remember my T.I. at Lackland telling us all to take out our ID’s and look at them closely, soon after we got them. He then asked “How many of you saw the little notice on the edge of the card? The one that says ‘Property of the U.S. Government.’ That means you, not just the card – don’t get sunburned, you’re destroying Government property!”
    (October, 1964)

    • Fred, I knew people who got busted for getting injured. In effect, damaging government property.

      They would tell you very quickly they owned your body and if you got bitten by a porpoise it was reckless on your part to put yourself in that position.

      Truly, that happened to a roomie of mine.

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