Imagine signing your name to a check and leaving the amount blank. The check has your personal account number printed on it. The payee will, without a doubt, cash this check in whatever sum that suits his or her whim.
Now, imagine that the payee is the United States government, and instead of dollars and cents, the value is measured in tokens of your life. You might squeak by with just a few years of your time. Maybe the ante will be higher and entail a piece of your mind or a limb — or both.
What if it cost you your life? Would you still sign the check and hand it over — voluntarily — with pride and a sense of duty? Would you be honored to do so?
Each and every one of the men and women of our armed forces, past and present, have done so at least once, many repeatedly. Their reasons vary widely. Some want an education while others want to see the world. Regardless, they share a commonality: They choose to serve their country.
Uncle Sam doesn't treat his people equally or fairly. He asks very little of some and everything of others. Recruits know this going in, but they sign the check anyway.
They put everything on the line so the people of the United States continue to have rights to free speech, choice of religion and freedom. They watch with heavy hearts as some of these citizens burn the American flag, protest funerals of their fallen comrades, even conspire to bring harm to this country and its people. These are rights they fight for, even though they do not always agree with the ways some choose to exercise them.
In the wrong hands, a blank check can cause great harm and loss. Our men and women place a great deal of trust in our political leaders and the American people, themselves. They've written a blank check, putting their country before themselves.
On Veteran's Day, our veterans warrant so much more than superficial parades, words of thanks and declarations of appreciation. They deserve our utmost and deepest respect.
Emily Thorne lives in Central Point.