Tomorrow is flag day, which triggered thoughts of nationalism. I'm not a person easily bound to others by geolocation or indoctrination, but by principles and integrity. Yielding autonomy to a commanding officer is a concept that sits uneasily with me, although I imagine many young folks with similar feelings signed up for one of the armed forces based on national needs and personal interests.
While out driving with Michelle looking for a walking location we stopped at the Calverton National Cemetery. What better place to contemplate nationalistic ideals than in a final resting place created to honor and remember those who served in the enforcement of our nation's political principles. Some paid the ultimate sacrifice, dying in battle. Many others paid by suffering ever lasting physical and emotional scars. Their gravestones and crematorium markers gave me pause to consider the forces that drove them to sacrifice so much.
Fiscal costs and human costs are inseparably linked in violent military conflicts. The high costs of training, outfitting and resupplying soldiers, pilots and support personnel directly affect their safety and risk of casualty. I fear too often decisions are made by leaders who don't respect each individual life as much as they should. Unfathomably hard decisions are demanded of leaders to minimize casualties and end conflicts as soon as possible. Morale and blood, both from soldiers and civilians are the gritty currencies spent to achieve victory.
My thoughts are consumed by critical value while working to build a startup, but few things are comparable to human life. They are orthogonal measures in my mind. Loved ones and freedom are the only things I can equate to sacrificing one's life for. Neither of these has any financial equal. The question of what we're willing to die for is closely related to the question of what we live for.