DECEMBER 2017 • LONGISLANDPRESS.COM 15
POINT OF VIEW
Thanks and no thanks
It’s that time
of year when
us what we
I’m no fan of
the world as
a messy, volatile,
challenging and unpredictable
place. But under the muck, there are
countless jewels to be thankful for.
My most meaningful holiday? I
was returning home from a visit
to Afghanistan aboard the U.S.S.
Enterprise in the middle of the
Persian Gulf. I boarded around
Thanksgiving and dined with the
carrier’s commander, Ron Horton,
who, I recall, was from Southold. I
asked him about the crew’s morale.
“These people are professionals,”
he said. “They’re doing their job.
They don’t ask for much, but they
do need to know that they have
support back home.”
Looking around that room gave me
the deepest sense of thanks I’d had
since my children were born. The
crew came from every conceivable
background. What they had in
common was not being with their
families on Thanksgiving and being
proud to protect those families.
Now we enter another holiday season,
where brave men and women
sit on ships and fly planes and huddle
in secret places far from home.
They’re the 1 percent that defends
the rest of us.
There are different ways to thank
them. Stickers that say, “Support
Our Troops” are nice, but we can
do better. Saying “thank you for
your service” is appreciated, but
requires little effort.
They truly don’t receive the thanks
they deserve. We want them to do
more while paying lower taxes to
support them. We want them to
fight our battles but many support
President Trump’s State Department
budget cuts for diplomacy
that might prevent those battles.
We’ve become disengaged from
understanding the battles as news
analysis morphs into opinion.
This holiday season, many will bask
in the warmth of home fireplaces,
surrounded by loved ones. I think
of another fireplace, lit in the White
House on Dec. 9, 1941. Two days
after the attack on Pearl Harbor,
FDR gave a fireside chat preparing
Americans for a difficult war.
Today, that speech might be considered
“I was about to add that ahead
there lies sacrifice for all of us,” he
said. “But it is not correct to use
that word. The United States does
not consider it a sacrifice to do all
one can, to give one’s best to our
nation, when the nation is fighting
for its existence and its future life.
“It is not a sacrifice for any man,
old or young, to be in the Army or
the Navy of the United States,” he
continued. “Rather it is a privilege.
It is not a sacrifice for the industrialist
or the wage earner, the farmer
or the shopkeeper, the trainmen or
the doctor, to pay more taxes, to buy
more bonds, to forego extra profits,
to work longer or harder at the task
for which he is best fitted. Rather it
is a privilege. It is not a sacrifice to
do without many things to which
we are accustomed if the national
defense calls for doing without it.”
This holiday season, check on a military
family. Contribute to a veteran’s
organization. Visit the Northport
Veterans Hospital. If you’re a builder,
donate time and resources to renovate
an American Legion or VFW Post.
Don’t just say “thank you.” Act on it.
Steve Israel’s next novel, Big Guns, can
be pre-ordered at repsteveisrael.com
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