In Focus: What is the best way to honor the military?

On Wednesday, Staff Sgt. Robert Miller of Wheaton was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for bravery in Afghanistan. His actions two years saved the lives of 22 American and Afghan soldiers.

For this week’s “In Focus,” various Northern Star columnists will weigh in on this question: What do you think is the best way to honor American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines in our country’s service?

Aaron Brooks, columnist: I think the United States already honors service members sufficiently. They have free medical care and education, and are given preference when applying for jobs. Today’s mission is incomparable to World War II, where soldiers were welcomed home with parades and horny nurses. The war on terror has no tangible final objective. It is a war that will still be fought when our grandchildren are born; although, hopefully on a smaller scale. Service members should realize that active combat is now an embedded facet of military service. Even though the public may seem complacent in their appreciation to them, we still thank them greatly for their service. We realize, however, they are not going to be the last ones to fight for this mission, and that makes it rain on our parade.

Phil Case, columnist: The best way to honor American soldiers is to make sure their benefits are sufficient. This involves ensuring their medical well-being (physically and mentally), providing them with the means to succeed in professional fields or higher education, and providing for the veteran’s dependents while he or she serves the country. Not only do the medical needs of the veteran need to be met, but they must also be diagnosed promptly and properly. Many suffer through symptoms of PTSD without getting the treatment they need.

Portia Kerr-Newman, columnist: Showing respect to our fellow soldiers, airmen, sailors etc., is the best way to acknowledge their importance to the people. Making sure they have homes, jobs, sufficient health care and education when they come home from their journeys would be beneficial. By reserving holidays, such as Memorial Day, families can remember those they have lost serving our country. Journalists can also write articles dedicated to the lives of those lost and currently serving the country so people can get a glimpse of their lives. Museums and memorials could also be built to express gratitude those serving the country.

Kathryn Minniti, columnist: To honor those who help fight and protect our country we should be more supportive. Instead of bashing the wars through our media we should take time to recognize them as our country’s heroes. I’d like to see more American flags around to show honor and pride towards these people that have died for our freedom and for those who still fight today. Instead of listening to pop culture’s celebrity news everyday, I rather hear about our soldiers and what is going on with them.

Logan Short, columnist: I don’t think those who serve our country really worry about how they are honored, which is why we honor them. It is because they are so willing to do some of the toughest, most unpleasant and sometimes unrewarding jobs that they deserve to be honored. They do their job because they believe in what they’re doing instead of just hoping they can reap the benefits. I think the way we honor those who serve our country is how these men and women want to be honored, because it is tradition and has been built up to mean so much when they actually do receive recognition like the Medal of Honor or some other service medal. If for the past century the highest award was called the Certificate of Merit, it would be no different. These men and women know when they’re being honored and it has nothing to do with the actual award itself, it’s the thought that counts.

Taurean Small, columnist: Regardless of where you stand politically, no one can deny the amount of respect any American should have for the heroic men and women of our country’s military services. Our country has done an immense amount to pay homage to those who fight for our freedom. Likewise, we should be just as encouraging to veterans who are enrolled at NIU. As a whole, we could host several large events in their honor but that will be effective for a few days. There is more power in thanking a soldier you see on campus. If a man or woman walks by you in a uniform, make sure you let them know just how appreciative you are of their services.