I’m a veteran.
Every year I read ‘thank you for your service’ messages and I’m grateful. Truly, I am.
This year, I’m also frustrated.

FREEDOM!

That’s what most people equate to Veterans as to why we serve, why we fight. To protect and preserve that most basic of American values: Freedom.
So what, exactly is this thing we’re fighting for?

Look it up.

Google’s dictionary has the easiest to read answer.

Webster’s Dictionary is more proper though it essentially says the same thing:

freedom
free·dom | \ˈfrē-dəm \
noun
1: the quality or state of being free: such as
a: the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action

So why am I frustrated? Because this “freedom” you think I was fighting for isn’t the freedom you say it is.
This past election showed me that what you call freedom isn’t the same thing as what freedom ACTUALLY is.

Look at those definitions again: the right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.

Basically, if you want to boil this down to its simplest form it means “Live and Let Live”.

The vitriol and hate, the accusations, lies, and outright disdain for each other, FROM BOTH SIDES, that spewed across social media this past election proves one thing. You think Freedom means you get to think and act and believe the way you do but everyone who doesn’t agree with you doesn’t.

That’s not how this works.

The ‘absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action’ means that you get to believe and think and act (within the boundaries of the law) the way you want to AND SO DOES EVERYONE ELSE.

THAT is what I spent my years serving to protect. Freedom for all.

Stop trying to make everyone act and think and believe the way you do. That’s not freedom, that’s oppression.

The vast majority of American’s want practical, common sense government. Stop letting the fringes (on both sides) dictate your opinion of what “those people” are like.
Find out for yourself. Talk to people who disagree with you. It’s okay. We’re not supposed to all think alike and it’s okay to have differences of opinion.

Find somewhere to start. Find a point you can all agree on and then start the conversation on the various (there are almost always more than one) solutions to those problems.

Yes, there will be fundamental points on which you cannot find consensus. That doesn’t mean you have to hate someone or accuse them of doing despicable things. The vast majority of people who belong to political parties, as well as those who belong to none, are just like you. They have their opinions and by and large they are rational thinking people.

So, thank you for thanking me for my service. I appreciate it, truly.
And if you really want to thank me and other veterans for their sacrifices, maybe you could try respecting the freedom we fought for. I mean actually respecting it. Acting like adults instead of spoilt children who didn’t get the toy they wanted.

This isn’t about just you.

It’s about all of us.

Freedom is not free, and it doesn’t apply to just those who think, act, look, and behave like you do.
It belongs to us all.