The beginning of the third line in the Soldier's Creed starts with, "I serve the people of the United States..."
It's fitting that the word "sergeant' has it's origins in the Latin word for "servant." A lot could be said about how soldiers, sergeants in particular, are supposed to be servants of the people. It's too bad these days that many of our ranks have become bitter and jaded towards the civilians we are supposed to serve. And towards each other.
When I think of service, honestly, I don't think about military service. That's our duty. Serving, real serving, requires humility and patience, getting dirty so someone else doesn't. It means going that extra distance for the people outside the military, the ones who look to the military for leadership and discipline. It does not mean going to work and doing your job. It's more than that.
It kills me inside when I overhear soldiers complaining about a civilian, or a civilian-led company. Don't they realize that our brothers- and sisters-in-arms are giving their lives to serve these people. Did it, or does it, really hinder their life if a civilian isn't working as fast as they'd like him to? What makes them feel so deserving? Why do enlisted soldiers these days have such a sense of entitlement? Is it because demands are placed on us, so we expect the same from others? Or is it that culture puts us up on a pedestal?
The problem, of course, is not rooted in only one issue. No. Society, neo-military culture, and the information age all play a huge role. Can a soldier overcome these factors and become a true servant of the people?
I think so.
Every soldier, whether from Brooklyn, NY or farm-grown Nebraska, has the capacity for good, for a servant's heart. It doesn't begin, however, with forcing a soldier to be a servant. You can't make someone who's been given everything their whole life to magically change their mindset. Orders can't be barked to change a man's heart.
It takes examples. To change a soldier's heart, it requires someone to make a dramatic example of servitude. It means thanking a civilian for his service. It means reminding one's self constantly that 'I am a servant." It means holding one's tongue. It means standing in line a little bit longer.
What it really means, what I believe, deep down in my heart, is that it begins with me. I have to be the servant. I have to set the example. I have to lead the way. How are these other soldiers going to be inspired to do good if I don't show them?