Commentary: Service to the state is not what defines a person

(Rob Schumacher | The Arizona Republic | The Associated Press) The Arizona National Guard carries the casket of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., into a memorial service at the Arizona Capitol on Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018, in Phoenix.

With the passing of Sen. John McCain, we hear a lot about the importance of respecting our nation’s heroes or those who have dedicated their lives to the state. The great sacrifice that comes from serving the country overshadows any meager wrongdoing that the individual may have committed. To me this sounds a little too much like an idea you would find in George Orwell’s “1984.”

Service to the state is not the end all be all of what defines a person. You must define yourself through your actions, not by the organization that signs your checks. At the end of your life, you are not judged by what clothing or uniform you wore, but by the person inside of that clothing.

I served for eight years in the Army as an infantryman. That job puts you on the frontline of war. It is there that you see a person’s true nature. I served with a lot of people whose true nature was terrible.

Simply putting on a uniform and saying a pledge to defend the nation against all enemies, foreign and domestic, does not protect you from criticism. A soldier in my unit was a former Army Ranger who was kicked from Ranger Battalion for multiple DUIs. While deployed, he regularly beat his soldiers, until he attempted to interrogate an Iraqi civilian through torture. He was then removed from performing operations.

Is that a gleaming example of what a dedicated member of the state is? Do his actions personify the true ideals of our nation? I hope it is an easy, “No.” And he is one of many who signed up to defend the nation but enjoyed the extracurricular activities more.

I ask you then, who was John McCain? A pilot in the Vietnam War, a prisoner of that same war, and a senator for 32 years. Is that all? Are there no blotches on his permanent record?

McCain had not voted against a military action since our actions in Somalia in the early 1990s. He was in complete support of Operation Iraqi Freedom — an interesting name for a baseless war of aggression based on lies.

We invaded Iraq under the presumption that they were training terrorists to attack the United States and because of their weapons of mass destruction. Weapons that we sold them and that we had no problem with them using against the Kurdish people in 1988. The training facilities were used to train Iraqi forces to defeat terrorist threats, like the Kurds.

McCain also supported the invasion of Afghanistan to find and kill Osama Bin Laden. Invade a debilitated country, that defeated the Soviet government, throwing the Afghani civilians into more disarray than already existed, to get one man. A man trained by American officials in tactics designed to defeat an invading force.

Don’t believe me? Watch the dedication at the end of the movie “Rambo III” to the freedom fighters of Afghanistan. Our military backs the wrong horse in every engagement we insert ourselves into. Which, of course, should be the case, because bringing war to another person’s door step is always the wrong plan.

The Democratic Party used to understand this. They held protests and voted against wars. The Kent State shooting showed the world that people were opposed to the Vietnam War, despite the nation’s stance on the matter. People were taking a stand against violence.

Saudi Arabia is causing a genocide in Yemen right now. Their direct actions have put the lives of millions in jeopardy. America and Saudi Arabia maintain a strong relationship in which we provide them with aide.

Democrats supporting the government is one thing. They supply help to the tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free. But do not support the wars that create more masses and do not celebrate the “heroes” that carry out those wars.

Mike Hughes, South Weber, is a U.S. Army veteran who served in three tours in Iraq.