One of the things that feels typically American when coming to the States as a Dutchie, is that all of culture seems to be coated with militarism. A military ID can get you through airport security faster, gives you a discount here and there and soldiers in uniforms are sometimes greeted by strangers and thanked for the work they are doing. I even saw a painting at a fair, that portrait a G.I. with the wings of an angel attached to it. On top of that, I got an extra dose of it when visiting the Kansas City Baseball game (see: Baseball), but still, it is everywhere. The day I went to the game it was Armed Forces Day. Every minute between innings was filled with an extraordinary respect for the military in every form. Sometimes a livestream was shown of soldiers from Kansas City based in Afghanistan also watching the game. After every single notion of those soldiers, people would clap, cheer and even give them a standing ovation, because everybody wants to show their gratitude to their boys.
I didn’t really know how to react. Not because I have a strong opinion against the military or the heroism that Americans seem to attribute to them, it was just too new for me. I just did not get it. First of all: to fly all over the world to defend your country against some shepherds in the desert seems a little redundant. Of course, I admire the goodwill to change the world and make it a better place as a whole, but that is a quite another thing than defending a country that has been attacked just once in its entire history. When people were praising the defending qualities of the American military, I just wondered why they were spending all the money outside the country. Especially since they could really use it themselves; the second thing I couldn’t imagine cheering for. To summarize my view: the country with the least necessity for a strong, defensive military, seems to be proudest of its soldiers. I’m not saying it’s a good or a bad thing (although soldiers sent abroad need support), I can’t see why. Explanations are welcome.