I was listening to the Democratic debate on Saturday and heard Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders repeatedly use the term, “Boots on the Ground” referring to possible future troop deployments. I was thinking how much I hate that term when Martin O’Malley commented that he had received a request from a military mother not to use this term because she said, “My son is more than a pair of boots.” I was so grateful to Governor O’Malley for bring up this request.
My brother was kind of a wild youth who the Army turned into a disciplined young man that his family was very proud of. He was killed in Iraq during Operation Desert Storm. He has missed so much life in the last 24 years including the birth of his only child and seeing her grow into a beautiful young woman. The pain of his death is still like a knife in my heart. HE was more than a pair of boots.
My son-in-law is an Army Ranger. He was serving in the Honor Guard Unit at Arlington National Cemetery on 9/11 and came to the aid of many people at the burning Pentagon building. He has been deployed to Iraq and seen friends killed. He has given 16 years of his life in service to his country. He has two small children and another on the way. Possible deployment is a constant reality for this family. HE is more than a pair of boots.
Using such casual euphemisms to refer to sending men and women into danger dehumanizes them. I join with the mother who spoke to Governor O’Malley in requesting that candidates and others stop using the term “Boots on the Ground” and to always remember there are people in those boots who are loved.