A Tribute to the Sheepdogs

by Lynn on November 11, 2011

young Marine with old army soldier On this Veteran’s Day, our nation is grateful to the men and women of our armed services who have given their lives to preserve the freedoms we enjoy each day. The steadfast commitment to protect the citizenry of our great country is borne daily by individual soldiers, sailors, airmen, guardsmen and Marines. For many people, the scope of this sacrifice is not easily understood. For some, the sacrifice is even disdained, mocked and ridiculed. But for most people in our nation, the choice of service and sacrifice made by these brave warriors is recognized for the gift that it is, given at a cost which can never be repaid.

US Marines on transport plane Who are these special ones, our fellow citizens, who make this choice? In his book On Combat, Lt. Col. Dave Grossman describes how society is akin to a pasture, and how people resemble three types of animals in that pasture: the sheep, the wolves, and the sheepdogs. Most of us are the sheep. We go about our daily lives, either oblivious to surrounding dangers or in denial about them. We can’t be bothered to concern ourselves with issues of security because quite frankly, thinking about such things scares us. We know about evil, but don’t really want to consider that it could ever touch our own lives. The more dim-witted among us just flat-out deny that evil even exists, and spend their days pretending that life is the utopia we want it to be. The wolves of course are the predatory members of society who lie in wait to prey upon the sheep. The wolves are the evil we don’t want to think about. Unfortunately for the sheep, the wolves’ main goal in life is to conquer, destroy and devour the sheep. The wolves are far stronger and more cunning than the sheep, and if society were left with just the two, the wolves would easily wipe out the sheep. Gratefully, there are the sheepdogs to stand in the gap. The sheepdogs circle the perimeter of the flock, and remain alert and on guard against any threat to the sheep. They are diligent in their duty to protect, even when the sheep are ignorant of their efforts. Sometimes the sheep are just a bit afraid of the sheepdogs, because they display some characteristics also common to the wolves. After all, they have fangs like the wolves and are also capable of violence. However, there is a difference in the purpose. Where the wolves practice violence to destroy, the sheepdogs use violence to protect the sheep. Most people do not have this capacity for violence, but some in our society have the desire to use this talent for good. The author describes this as a gift.

“These people, the ones who have been blessed with the gift of aggression and a love for others, are our sheepdogs. These are our warriors.”   Lt. Col. Dave Grossman

For the love of this great country, our warriors serve. All have given time, energy, and resources. They sign up for a life where their schedule is not their own. They endure long separations from family and friends. They work in unbearable conditions, and under extreme pressures. They see things that no one should ever have to. Some have sacrificed limbs, health, and mobility. Some have given their lives.

Luxembourg American CemeteryNotwithstanding this great sacrifice, some sheep are dedicated grumblers. They are not happy, nor are they grateful. Despite historical evidence to the contrary, some ignorant sheep accuse the sheepdogs of just pretending to protect so that they can conquer the sheep and steal their pasture. In an interview, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, shared these poignant words which clearly support the opposite.

“We have sent men and women from the armed forces of the United States to other parts of the world throughout the past century to put down oppression.  We defeated Fascism.  We defeated Communism.  We saved Europe in World War I and World War II.  We were willing to do it, glad to do it.  We went to Korea.  We went to Vietnam.  All in the interest of preserving the rights of people. 

And when all those conflicts were over, what did we do?  Did we stay and conquer?  Did we say”  “Okay, we defeated Germany.  Now Germany belongs to us?  We defeated Japan, so Japan belongs to us”?  No.  What did we do?  We built them up.  We gave them democratic systems which they have embraced totally to their soul.  And did we ask for any land?  No, the only land we ever asked for was enough land to bury our dead.  And that is the kind of nation we are.”  Secretary Colin L. Powell, Washington, DC   February 14, 2002.

To all of the men and women who have served this country and have sacrificed your own freedoms to preserve ours—we extend our humble gratitude.

To all of my fellow sheep—on this Veteran’s Day, make an effort to thank a sheepdog. If you really want to show your appreciation, consider supporting the Semper Fi Fund, Soldier’s Angels, or the Wounded Warrior Project.

May God bless all our military members, past and present, on this Veteran’s Day and may he continue to bless the United States of America.

On the journey toward Home,

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