24 July 2014

They The Builders of a Nation

How similar are pioneers of American West lore and deployed US Soldiers?

I've never crossed a vast plain pulling a handcarrt, so I can't for sure say. I've driven through Colorado and Kansas on the I-70, though, which was definitely a trial of my faith. It felt like a three-month journey.

But the question is a serious one, and I've been posing it to Soldiers over here who have ties to Utah or know the story of the generation of '47. Many seem to think there are comparisons to be drawn, and I agree. But for a different reason.

The old Mormon hymn, which gets sung but once a year, might give us an idea:
They, the builders of the nation,
Blazing trails along the way;
Stepping-stones for generations
Were their deeds of ev'ry day.
Building new and firm foundations,
Pushing on the wild frontier,
Forging onward, ever onward,
Blessed, honored Pioneer!
Many service members see a parallel between military service and what the Utah pioneers did because of the work ethos and willingness to sacrifice.

I see an analogy between us for the reasons we work. Military members in Afghanistan are nation building. The effort here is nothing less. Kandahar Airfield and the dozens of other NATO bases sprang up because people worked their butts off to build them. Why? Well, setting aside the motivation gap between strategic planners and tactical elements, the short answer is to put Afghanistan on a path toward inclusion in the world.

It's not always popular of course in elite circles-- which might include multi-culturalists, academics, right-wingers, and anti-militarists-- to claim a right to build a nation, but that's what we're doing. And Afghanistan wants us to-- overwhelmingly.

The massive counterinsurgency enterprise here is armed nation building, and I am proud to be a part of it. The people I serve with do so voluntarily. Afghan churchgoers might one day sing, "blessed, honored, Warrior!"

1 comment:

  1. Nice tie in to Pioneer Day! I can also imagine singing, "Come, come ye saints and soldiers, no toil nor labor fear!"