Veterans’ Lament: This Isn’t the Country We Fought For—God Help the U.S.A.
Updated: Jan 5
In 2016 I was honored to be inducted into the Veteran’s Hall of Fame for the State of Florida. The State Capitol where the ceremony took place was teeming with veterans of Vietnam, the Korean War, and even a few from World War II. As we mingled and made small talk while waiting for the ceremony to begin, I overheard two older veterans discussing the current state of affairs in America. Frankly, they were unhappy with what they read in their newspapers every morning and watched on the nightly news. One of them said, “I don’t understand what’s happening in America. This isn’t the country we fought for.”
This was a powerful statement coming from a veteran who, as it turned out, had been seriously wounded while serving in the Korean War. Since that day in the state Capitol, I have heard a lot of veterans make similar comments. So many, in fact, that a year ago I started asking older veterans what they thought of current conditions in our country. I have received numerous and varied responses to this question, but if I had to give a one-sentence summary of them it would be this: America has strayed far from its Christian roots. Let’s review some of the more frequent responses to my question.
Disrespect for the Flag
Many of the veterans I interviewed were especially bothered by open displays of disrespect for the flag they fought for and that many of their fellow soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines died defending. It bothered veterans that their grandchildren were not allowed, much less required, to recite the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of each school day, as was the practice when they were youngsters. Attempts by anti-Christian groups to remove the words “under God” from the pledge really rankled these older veterans. One of them told me, “The reason our country is worth fighting for—or at least was—is that it was established as ‘one nation under God.’”
Disrespect for the National Anthem
Although to a man the veterans I talked with acknowledged they fought in part to protect freedom of speech, they were uniformly disturbed to see this right used—several said abused—to show disrespect for our National Anthem. Watching professional football players take a knee during the National Anthem was heart breaking for these veterans; old men bent by age and wounds who still stand proud and as erect as they can when they hear what one of them called the “precious words of our national song.” Another veteran told me, “Just because they have a right to kneel during the National Anthem doesn’t mean they should. There are more appropriate ways to express their views.”
Neglecting Veterans Who Need Healthcare
A fellow Marine veteran told me he became livid every time he heard about veterans dying while waiting to receive medical care from VA clinics. Then he asked what I think is a pertinent question: “How does our government justify giving billions of dollars in foreign aid to countries that despise America while veterans are dying because VA clinics are understaffed and underfunded?” Good question. It was echoed by several of the older veterans I interviewed.
Pointless, Gratuitous Violence
Many of the veterans I interviewed asked, “What is happening in our country?” The issues that concerned them were pointless, gratuitous violence and the lack of respect for human life. They could not understand why school shootings, workplace massacres, road rage, and attacks on churches and Synagogues occur so frequently. They also expressed concern about character assassination in politics, polarization of the public square, rampant drug abuse, vulgar music, ubiquitous profanity, sexually-explicit advertising, and a general coarsening of the culture. One older veteran asked, “Why would anyone be willing to fight and possibly die defending a country characterized by these things? When I joined the military, I knew I was fighting for a country that represented what is good and right. I’m not sure that’s true anymore.”
Stifling Political Correctness
Almost to a person, the veterans I talked with complained about the stifling effect political correctness is having on free speech in our country. One veteran of World War II said he fought against the soldiers of Nazi Germany, a dictatorship in which free speech was quashed by jackbooted thugs empowered to shoot anyone who spoke out against Hitler’s regime. He said, “We used to value free speech above all else in this country. Now I can’t even state my views—views that used to represent mainstream thought in our country—without being called a narrow-minded bigot. I once enjoyed discussing and debating politics with people whose beliefs were different than mine, but not anymore. We used to be able to disagree without being disagreeable, but those days are long gone. As soon as I say anything that doesn’t fit the contrived narrative of the left, the ad hominem attacks begin and I become a target that must be destroyed.”
The issue that seemed to concern the older veterans I talked with most was the anti-Christian bias they observe in the media, schools, colleges, government, and the public square. One veteran told me, “When I served, protecting freedom of religion was important to me. I fought for God and country. America was special because it was a nation blessed by God. Now my Christian views make me an outcast in the very country I fought for. I’m afraid America is losing its soul by turning away from God.”
Perhaps the comment that best summarized the views of the older veterans I interviewed came from a Korean War veteran. “When I served, America was a country worth fighting for and even dying for. I’m not sure that’s true anymore. When young people ask me if they should serve in the military, I don’t know what to tell them. I like that song ‘God Bless the U.S.A.’ but I think we need to replace it with a new song titled ‘God Help the U.S.A.’”
Dr. Goetsch is the author of Christian Women on the Job: Excelling at Work without Compromising Your Faith, Fidelis Books, an imprint of Post Hill Press and Christians on the Job: Winning at Work Without Compromising Your Faith, Salem Books, an imprint of Regnery Publishing, 2019: www.david-goetsch.com