Do we call a member of the Mafia or other criminal gang a hero if he gives his life in the course of saving his fellow gang members from an attack by rival gang members? No, we call him a dupe, a fool, or an idiot.
I was reminded of this truth when I received an e-mail promotion from Outback Steakhouse on Sunday, February 17. Why was the e-mail sent on the 17th? Because Presidents’ Day was the next day: Monday, February 18. Here is the text of what I received:
HERE’S WHAT’S GRILLIN’ AT OUTBACK THE WEEK OF FEBRUARY 18, 2019
HONORING HEROES WITH 20% OFF
PROUD TO SERVE THOSE WHO SERVE
We are partnering with Operation Homefront to help make life a little easier for our military, veterans and families in their communities. We are honoring all HEROES February 18-21 with 20% off.* (with valid state or federal ID).
The * refers to the fine print at the bottom of the e-mail stating that the offer is valid from February 18-21, and is open to servicemen and women, police officers and firefighters, with corresponding state or federal service ID, plus Military Personnel and their immediate family members who have a proper form of identification
I have pointed out many times over the years how that the holidays of Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Veterans Day should just be called Military Appreciation Day 1, Military Appreciation Day 2, and Military Appreciation Day 3.
Now it seems as though every holiday has been turned into a military appreciation day.
But it gets worse. When you look at the Outback Steakhouse website, you will see a box containing text that reads: “Serving Those Who Serve.” Clicking inside the box brings you to a page that reads:
Help Us Serve Those Who Serve
At Outback Steakhouse, we are partnering with Operation Homefront to help make life a little easier for our military, veterans and families in their communities.
On this page you can read about the “Heroes Discount.” Outback Steakhouse celebrates “all servicemen and women, police officers, firefighters, and all first responders with 10% off* their entire check all day, every day (with valid state or federal service ID).”
Once again, the * refers to the fine print at the bottom of the page stating that the offer is valid through March 26, and is open to servicemen and women, police officers and firefighters, with corresponding state or federal service ID, plus Military Personnel and their immediate family members who have a proper form of identification.
The Outback Steakhouse e-mail and website that call military personnel heroes raises two important questions that I don’t hear anyone asking.
First of all, why is it that all U.S. soldiers (and police, firemen, and first responders) are heroes? It doesn’t matter where soldiers go, why they go, how long they stay, whether they should go, or what they do when they are there—the soldiers are all heroes. It doesn’t matter how many widows and orphans soldiers make, how many bombs they drop, how many civilians they kill, how much infrastructure they destroy, how many bullets they fire, how many missiles they launch, or how many of “the enemy” they injure, maim, or kill—the soldiers are all heroes.
What is so heroic about just joining the military? What is so heroic about wearing a military uniform? What is so heroic about getting up in the morning when you are told to? What is so heroic about making widows and orphans? What is so heroic about fighting “over there” when there was no chance that you would have to fight “over here”? What is so heroic about dropping bombs from 40,000 feet? What is so heroic about dying for a mistake?
Second, and most importantly: Can U.S. soldiers be heroes? If soldiers go where they have no business going, engage in offensive military actions, fight unnecessary foreign wars, bomb, maim, and kill for the U.S. government, fight unjust wars, obey immoral orders, make war against people that were no threat to Americans, and then die for their country or lay down their life for one of their fellow soldiers—how could they possibly be considered heroes? Some other words do come to mind: mercenaries, pawns, dupes, myrmidons, killers, murderers, destroyers, invaders, occupiers.
U.S. soldiers are not all heroes. U.S. soldiers are not heroes at all.
Enjoy your meal at Outback Steakhouse. I always do. If you are in the military or are a veteran, get your heroes discount. Just don’t think for a minute that anyone is a hero because he is, or was, in the U.S. military.
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