A few days ago I had the privilege to speak to an old friend who is currently serving on his 5th combat tour in Afghanistan alone (he left his civilian job after 9-11 and joined the military, he has two children and of course his amazing wife). While I was driving down the highway we spoke about the past few years and what has been going on in our lives. As the conversation continued we stumbled onto the topic of elitism. My friend and I have both not only been accused personally but have seen so many comments about it in the press and social media outlets. The definition of elitism is: The belief that certain persons or members of certain classes or groups deserve favored treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority, as in intellect, social status, or financial resources. When I say accused, I mean while in mid conversation concerning the war or the politics behind and how only 1% of this free public has served its nation and how mind blowing that is usually lands me under that title from someone. Not only me, but as I have said my dear friend has heard the same. In the military the world elite means something different to us apparently. I am not saying you have to be the Tier 1 operator running around in cool guy gear, you simply have to do your job to the best of your abilities and looking after your troops…that’s being elite.
I am still trying to figure out how there seems to be two very different implementations of this phrase in our country. There is the one have I just spoken of and the other, let’s take overpaid athletes who are considered elite. Why is this? These are our heroes? These are the people that we envision as elite because they can do what so very few can? Ok…I get it. Then what about the men and women of this country (the 1%’ers as I like to call them) and what they do that so very few can? Elite right? Nope…sorry…apparently too many in the general public think they are not. Yet a football player who is paid a disgusting amount of money to play a child’s game and even sometimes be allowed to act like a child is considered elite.
At rallies, coffee shop chatter, social media sites, and even media sites themselves I have read and heard hundreds of times how returning veterans should not be treated like heroes, role models, or elite Americans. How did we get here? How are children in awe of a 6’1 quarterback who has been accused of domestic violence and other interesting charges as a hero and not that PFC from Wyoming who just completed a combat tour, endured a hellish environment and survived just so that athlete can make millions never mind the security of our nation. Even if that PFC didn’t ever leave the FOB (Forward Operating Base), he or she went and did something very few in this country could. I no longer care about FOBBITS or who does what or doesn’t. This is about recognizing that our veterans and current service members are an elite class.
I am not bashing football players (I love the Giants) but any athlete or actor I don’t care. If they are given the privilege of being called elite, then holy hell so should our men and women who are, have or will serve this nation. These are the people that put their country first and not their own safety, financial gain or self interest. We have our fair share of screw ups in the military, but why aren’t children encouraged to serve their country in a capacity like the military or even government work? Why do we look at as if it was a prison sentence? Next time you see a individual who is in uniform or know someone who has served at some point in some capacity, look to your child and say…that’s an elite person!