Having a sense of community is a good thing. While we humans are not a herd beast (regardless of how it seems now and then), we are tribal beings.
Early humans grouped together for both safety and efficiency. I think even Chuck Norris might have had trouble surviving for long out on the Serengeti back in the day. While Mr. Norris is a very skilled and tough fighter, lions are tougher, cheetahs are faster and leopards can climb trees for crying out loud. You think the world is dangerous now?
Try 15,000 BC.
I too belong to a community. Those who've been here a while know of which I speak. The opening photo also provides a clue.
My community, the group I most closely identify with, are those men and women who serve, and who have served, honorably in the Armed Forces of the United States of America.
I served 24 years in the Air Force, my kids have served or serve still in the Navy.
I have friends who served in the Army and friends who served in the Marines.
I think I may know a Coast Guardsman or two. While they aren't in the Department of Defense, they used to chop over to the Navy in wartime. Many of the landing craft which delivered fighting men to the beaches from Peleliu to Normandy were driven by Coast Guardsmen.
I also spent seven and a half years in NATO. I served with Canadians, Germans, Belgians, Dutchmen, Norwegians and Italians.
In my travels I've had the opportunity to associate with the Korean Army and Air Force and certain Highland members of the Royal Army.
All good lads and true.
I count them as members of my community as well.
All these good people are, in a very real sense, my brothers and sisters in arms. We all, at one time in our lives, stepped up, raised our right hands and swore an oath. We swore to defend our country, we swore to uphold the Constitution.
Some say we wrote a blank check to Uncle Sam that we would lay down our lives if necessary.
Trust me, very few of us actually thought that when we were swearing the oath. Though it did linger in the back of one's mind. The ultimate possibility.
When I retired from the Air Force, I actually got to make a speech. I worked on that little ten to fifteen minute speech for a few days. After all, how many times does one get to retire from the military? Once. (I checked.)
As I worked on that speech I thought about a lot of things. Mostly I thought about the people I had served with and their families. Not just the families who were with us as we traveled like nomads from assignment to assignment.
There were also the families back home. Back at the place we came from. We all have to come from somewhere. For most of us it's a home with a Mom and a Dad, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, grandparents and cousins. If you're lucky those folks cared about you and worried about you while you were out in the world, doing your military job.
In the "old days" those folks would also write letters to you. Letters which were looked forward to, letters which were read over and over and cherished.
Sigh, no one writes letters anymore.
On the other hand, though my military days are over, I'm now one of those "old folks back home." Both daughters are still on active duty and while we don't send letters, it's a pretty big deal getting an e-mail from them when they're out at sea.
When my son was still serving, he would start each e-mail home pretty much the same way. After his ship had been at sea for a few days, we'd get the "the Battle of Norfolk is over, the real mission begins..." e-mail. Seems that being in port in Norfolk can be a colossal pain in the stern. I've had a few other friends mention that as well.
I've not heard similar complaints regarding Sandy Eggo. Oh yeah, Norfolk is virtually within spitting distance of the Pentagon. Sandy Eggo has some elbow room. Three thousand miles of elbow room.
Unlike some in my community I don't make a big deal about serving, it's just something I did. I enjoyed it, I somewhat pity those who didn't have the opportunity to serve. But I don't look down on anyone for not having served.
Like I mentioned in my speech, a military by itself is pretty meaningless. Without something to protect and defend, what's the point?
People need to grow the crops, build the machines, maintain the highways and other facets of the infrastructure. Without the good folks of America doing their jobs and paying their taxes, I would have had no equipment, no uniform, no place to lay my head at night, no food and no pay.
Everyone has their role in life. Everyone has their job.
All who contribute are important. All who contribute are needed.
So that's my community. I'm proud of it. I'm proud that my children chose to join it.
But it isn't for everyone, as long as you can find your place in this world, contribute to your community and those dependent on it, you have my respect.*
And my gratitude.
*The original wording said "can contribute," Juvat is right (see his comment), so I dropped the "can."