In Honor Of Those Families Who Serve, One Generation After Another

Recently, I came across this local TV news piece from La Crosse, WI. This family represents very clearly to me the sacrifices that are made by a very small part of our population on behalf of the entire nation. The Kammel family have a long history of service, from a grandfather who was in the army, several uncles and the three siblings featured in this story. All three of the Kammel siblings, two boys and one girl have joined the United States Marine Corps and you can see that they are very proud of one another and the Corps.  

We should all be thankful that there are such families and such young people among us. It says something about those families and themselves, for sure, but it also says something about their commitment to their duties as citizens of this country. Oh, yes, their reasons for joining may have been less exalted, more immediate than thinking about being a good citizen, but they took on all of the duties and potential inevitabilities of military service, voluntarily when they joined. 

The United States Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon performs at the United States Marine Corps Enlisted Awards Parade and Presentation held at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.
The United States Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon performs at the United States Marine Corps Enlisted Awards Parade and Presentation held at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.

Here is what we are all challenged to contemplate:  As a citizen of this country one enjoys all of the benefits of the political freedom and, yes, moral freedoms that are enumerated in the Constitution of the United States of America. But because we freely enjoy those rights and privileges, by virtue of our citizenship, there are certain duties that we may be called upon as citizens to undertake, and among those are the duty to protect and defend the Constitution and those rights it enshrines for all citizens, not just ourselves. 

We have a duty to honor and to give thanks for those rights by living in accord with the Common Good that they foster for all. Sometimes that means we must make individual sacrifices to honor and promote that Common Good. 

Marines and sailors of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment push out to set up hasty defensive positions after departing the CH-53 Super Stallion that dropped them off in the Combat Center's Rainbow Ridge Training Area.
Marines and sailors of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment push out to set up hasty defensive positions after departing the CH-53 Super Stallion that dropped them off in the Combat Center’s Rainbow Ridge Training Area.

We all know that those ideals are not easy to live by, that we often fail in living out their demands on us. We also know from our history, that those freedoms, rights and privileges have often been threatened from within and from without. We have had to defend them on many occasions and the costs have been very great indeed.  Like the Kammel family siblings, from the American Revolution to the recent ending of the 20 year long war in Afghanistan, countless men and women citizens have left their families, the security of their own homes, their friends and all that is familiar to them and answered the call to duty. They put themselves on the front lines of defense by serving in the uniforms of our Armed Forces. And their families back home have “served” with them, waiting worrying, hoping for their safe return home. All too many paid the ultimate sacrifice defending those rights and freedoms enshrined in our Constitution against all foreign and domestic threats.

There is one more point to make here. The Kammel family represents a truth that most Americans are unaware of, and are maybe indifferent to. The truth is that over the last 20 years of in Iraq and in Afghanistan, and in many other dangerous places, those who have borne the burden of this duty of citizenship represent less than 1% of our total population. This is, in part, due to the fact that we have an all-volunteer military since July 1, 1973, when the military draft was ended at the close of the American involvement in the Vietnam War. There are legitimate arguments for both an all-volunteer military service and the draft, and they both have good and bad potential consequences.   

The United States Marine Corps Silent drill Platoon performs at the United States Marine Corps Enlisted Awards Parade and Presentation held at Lejeune Hall, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.
The United States Marine Corps Silent drill Platoon performs at the United States Marine Corps Enlisted Awards Parade and Presentation held at Lejeune Hall, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.

What we have seen during the last 20 years, during the post 9/11 wars, is that the all-volunteer military has come to be drawn from fewer and fewer families and that many of those families, for a variety of reasons, have had multiple family members take up the call to duty in difficult times. Military service has become the burden of the few, rather than the many. 

Two things need to be said here. First, these young men and women who have served over the last 20 years have done so with great nobility of purpose, honor, courage and success. They have conducted themselves in the highest ideals of America’s long military history. We could not be more proud of those that, like the Kammel family in this story, have so generously and selflessly joined and served our nation so well over these last 2 decades. The second is that while families like the Kammels, and many others, have born this particular burden of citizenship in defending the Constitution from all foreign and domestic threats, most of their peers, and most of the population, had “no skin in the game” and suffered few to none of the costs while enjoying all of the great privileges of this country, and often without a thought for the many sacrifices this small portion of our population has borne so generously on their behalf.  

U.S. Marines with 1st Platoon, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division set up to begin fire team rushes aboard Fort Pickett, Va.
U.S. Marines with 1st Platoon, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division set up to begin fire team rushes aboard Fort Pickett, Va.

The Kammel family and all who have served over the last 20 years in Afghanistan and in Iraq deserve our gratitude for all that they have done and continue to do anonymously on behalf of all of us. We need to thank them, not just with our words, but with a full and complete commitment to meet any and all of their needs that may arise as a result of their service to our country. We need to do this at the level of our neighborhoods and cities, and at the level of local, state and federal government. Congress, for example, needs to ensure that the VA has the funding to take care of all medical needs, physical and psychological that may be due to their service in these wars.   

But beyond this, we need to recognize the Kammel family siblings and all those who continue to choose to serve in our nation’s Armed Forces. We need to recognize the importance of their service. We need to remember that we enjoy all of these rights and privileges because of the willing military service of so many men and women over the 245 years of our nation’s history. The Veterans Site is committed to honoring the service and sacrifice of our military men and women and their families. We who are veterans know the cost of those sacrifices and we will never forget those who went before us, those we served with, or those who will continue to willingly answer the call to Protect and Defend the Constitution of the United States of America in the future.  

Learn more about the Kammel family in this piece by News 8000.  

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