I have recently started to think about the reason for my service. “Why did I voluntarily sign up to potentially die in war?” This question was posed to me and my Army ROTC battery. Specifically, we were asked, ”Why would anyone apply for a job that strains an individual’s physical health, with the potential for horrible conditions, horrible outfits, questionable pay and, on top of it all, possible death in a country no one has ever heard of for people they have never met?” I have heard multiple reasons from individuals in my battery, cadets and cadre alike, and those reasons have nothing to do with selfish gain or self-preservation. They all all have to do with selfless love. There appears to be a deeper meaning in why service men and women, soon-to-be or otherwise, decide to fight our country’s battles.
Most say it is to fight for their country, home, and loved ones. Others say it’s to serve a cause greater than themselves. Some join because they need a job to support their families. I am serving with all of the above causes in mind, while also keeping them close to my heart. However, I would go a step further into the selfless logic behind military service.
My reason for volunteering body and mind for war is a hereditary duty to set the example of living to make a positive difference in innocent people’s lives, because I honor them enough to put my life at risk so they can live in peace and continue to make this world better in their own way. Even if I do not know these innocent people intimately, I will still carry out my duty because of the love I feel for any potentially benevolent person dedicated to doing good. Whatever anyone’s individual motivations for serving this country in war, I would like to believe this is every veteran’s resolve when they go to work in the defense of our nation and its people.
I believe those who have served, are going to serve, or are interested in serving cannot and should not take personally the negative things that might be said about their service. The members of my family who have served in the military have had the less than enjoyable experience of being accused of being baby killers, murderers, contracted assassins, or foot soldiers of big government by citizens with anti-war sentiments. I’ve been called all of these as well. Having an opinion is the political right of the American people. Let them have their opinions. Swearing to defend the laws of our country and the rights of its people is a part of the oath we take as service members.
Service men and women of the United States have a history of faithfully fighting for the legal rights of the American people and the human rights of all people. They have sacrificed their time, energy, and in many cases their lives, so the citizens of our planet can live in peace and freedom. That was what the members of my family were tasked with when they served, and it will be my turn to carry that task very soon. I understand that discussion of political activity is important and the pen is mightier than the sword, but sometimes we must use the sword to protect the pen against those who would threaten the stability of our planet and its people, whether they are terrorists with a political agenda or tactful leaders with visions of conquest and domination. These are the reasons to why I fight.
Alexander Amoroso is a U.S. Army ROTC cadet at Santa Clara University in California. He is the recipient of the Gentry Winters Historical Honors Scholarship, the Award for Excellence in Military History from the U.S. Army Center of Military History, and the Association of the United States Army and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Award. He has also been published in the works of Thought Notebook, Ash and Bones, the Army Magazine and is an associate member of the Military Writers Guild.
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Header Image: Still image from "War Comes to America," the seventh film in Frank Capra's "Why We Fight" series. (Public Domain)