My Saddest American Moment in 2016 Hasn’t Been the Election

The 2016 presidential election was certainly disturbing to me. It was the first time my two oldest sons got to vote in a presidential election, and sadly our family considered both major party candidates morally and ethically unqualified for the office. But there was something this year that troubled me far more about America today than the presidential election.

My second oldest son graduated from high school in May. He was an excellent student near the top of his class, and he received an excellent academic scholarship to attend Eastern Kentucky University. He also loves his country and has long had a desire to serve his country in the military. After graduation, he told us that he wanted to join the US Army Reserves while he was attending college with the long-term goal of becoming a JAG officer. While the thought of your son potentially being in combat is sobering, we were thrilled and filled with pride about his willingness to serve and sacrifice for his nation.

When people ask him what his plans are for the future, he would excitedly tell them about college and joining the US Army. What kept happening when he did makes me sorrowful about the state of our country. The most common response was, “Aren’t you a really good student?” Others would say, “You must need money for school, right?” or “You could do so many other things, why would you do that?” These kinds of comments have come from people of all ages and all kinds of backgrounds.

The prevailing sentiment seems to be that it is foolish for a young man that is academically gifted, with so many potential career options before him to enlist in the US military. I hate to even type these words, but it seems to me that many educated, financially stable people in America view the military as a place for people with no other options, a kind of Last Chance U for life.

Our entitled, privileged culture undervalues and underestimates the meaning and significance of military service.

When did this happen in our country? There was a time when it was virtually impossible in America to rise to any significant political office without serving in the military or being a hero in combat. That makes perfect sense because such a person has already demonstrated loyalty and willing personal sacrifice for our great nation. It is hard to gain the kind of sober, practical wisdom that military service provides in any other walk of American life.

It may seem strange in today’s world, but there is a young man from Lexington, Kentucky who did not enlist because he had to have money for college or was without other options but because he loves his country and is willing to sacrifice for her safety and good. My prayer is that his decision will not seem so strange and the days ahead and his tribe increases. I fear that what we are protecting the younger generation from is the maturity, selflessness, and courage that military service demands. Many of our current national problems are rooted in the fact that

too many Americans want the benefits of our country without taking ownership of her security. We often want the liberty without the duty.

On this Veterans Day in 2016, I want to honor every US veteran and let them know that my son considers each of you, heroic role models, and he is honored to follow in your steps.

By |November 11th, 2016|Categories: Blog|

About the Author:

David E. Prince is pastor of preaching and vision at Ashland Avenue Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky and assistant professor of Christian preaching at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of In the Arena and Church with Jesus as the Hero. He blogs at Prince on Preaching and frequently writes for The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, For the Church, the BGEA and Preaching Today


  1. C November 12, 2016 at 6:20 am

    I couldn’t agree more! My daughter graduated from high school this year, having always made honors or high honors every quarter. She was an excellent student and could have gone nearly anywhere she wanted to for college. But she made the decision to enlist in the United States Marine Corps. Sadly, many of her friends, teachers and school administrators and even some of our family members questioned her decision with such utter confusion and disgust. They behaved as though she was throwing it all away. Many said to her, “Why on Earth would you do that?” Or “Your family doesn’t have enough money for college?”
    This is what happens when an entire generation is entitled, treated like babies, has had instant gratification for everything, is not allowed to experience failure, and isn’t taught how to cope and pull themselves up when things get tough. Sad state of affairs for many of our youth who are now emotionally fragile, confused, impatient and have no concept of true patriotism or thankfulness for the freedoms they have.

  2. Daisy's Mom November 14, 2016 at 7:42 am

    Thank you for this! My 19 year old son is currently in boot camp. I tried everything in my power to talk him out of it. When he told me that he felt it was his duty as a US citizen to serve his country, that was it for me. I had no words, nothing but pride for this young man I raised who was willing to sacrifice his life for the country he loved. He definitely went against the grain of the stereotypical Millenial. I am scared to death, but proud as can be of this young man who is willing to fight for all of us, our freedoms, our way of life. Thank you to all the young men and women who feel the same and are doing the same. No safe places needed for these young warriors!

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