Let’s Hear It For Our Troops

Melanie Rovinsky

Last week, due to extreme crowding at the gym, I decided to wake up extra early and squeeze in a workout before class. I arrived at the rec-center just after 7 a.m. – slightly tired, totally unmotivated, and utterly disheveled. After haphazardly touching my toes a few times, I began running the 40 laps it takes to burn off the large quantities of Swedish Fish and other junk I consume on a daily basis. Like usual, I resorted to people-watching in order to focus my mind on something other than the dreaded four miles I was running. Normally, I am entertained by an intense indoor soccer game or someone staring at me from the cardio room, but this particular morning, I saw something a little more valuable.

UNH’s branch of ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) was gathered in one of the basketball courts. I watched as both men and women neatly dressed in their Army-issued shirts moved together, and I listened (even over my iPod) to the numerous voices that sounded in unison. For a few moments, I was reminded of the responsibility, dedication, and courage that still exist in some individuals in our country.

While I am definitely patriotic, I am far from “military-material.” My best friend Emily is in the National Guard. She recently returned home after being stationed in Iraq for a year. The experiences she had, and the stories she told me, only confirmed my belief that our country would be in a state of disarray if people like me were running around in fatigues. The idea of being “in the field” without the luxury of looking in a mirror or tweezing my eyebrows freaked me out just as much as when I learned the base Emily stayed at was bombed multiple times a day. I recognize that it takes a certain kind of person to fight for and defend one’s country, and I believe that those individuals are not acknowledged or appreciated enough.

I do not want to make this a rant on a particular political party, nor do I think the blame can be cast on a certain type of person. I have no urge to discuss politics or divulge my party affiliation. I simply want to deliver a friendly reminder to those who need it.

Too often, men and women in our military are underappreciated because individuals falsely associate them with the causes they are fighting for. I will be the first to admit that the War on Terrorism has not been the immediate success it was promised to be. I will also admit that the courses of action that have been taken have strayed from our country’s original goals. However, this war did not always have a 25 percent approval rating. According to CBS News, immediately after the September 11th attacks, 90 percent of Americans supported a campaign against terrorism. And in April 2003 when the war began, 79 percent of Americans were still in support.

I understand that as Americans we rely on instant gratification, but wars are never quick and easy. They involve significant time and losses. I think a lot of people in our country have forgotten that when this war began, they were in support of it. What American wasn’t in favor of hunting down the individuals responsible for killing thousands of innocent lives? I am by no means trying to change anyone’s opinion on the war. I am simply trying to rally support for those fighting in it.

I can’t even imagine how awful it must feel to know you are fighting for a war that nobody believes in. Men and women put their lives on the line every day for average people like me who would rather read about wars in books than actually participate in one. And what do those men and women get in return? Disrespect. Think about how you would feel if you spent four or more years earning a degree that the entire country felt was worthless. What if no one believed your career, your goals, or your lifestyle could make a significant difference? What if you were just wasting your time?

Sometimes, we all have to realize that life isn’t all just black and white. Sometimes, we all have to realize it isn’t just about supporting or opposing something. And sometimes, we all just have to realize life is more important to give your respect than to give your opinion.