Different, but also the same.

Every once in a while, life presents us with an opportunity to reflect on what really matters and what we ought to be thankful for. For me, last week’s tragic events at Ft. Hood were such a moment.

By now I’m sure we all know the story of the events and how they unfolded. The violence, fear, and tragedy of that day will haunt our military and ourselves for some time. After all, with such a thing being virtually unprecedented up to that point, we wouldn’t be normal if we weren’t caught a little off-guard.

The reflection I’m referring to goes beyond whether or not we should institute new security measures on our military bases, beyond whether or not this was the action of a terrorist, and beyond whether or not we should grow ever more cautious about threats to our lives and liberty.

To be sure, these things we certainly ought to think about. But I think that what’s more important is that we remember that our military men and women are just as human as the rest of us. Something I feel has been lost in these times of armed conflict is that even though it may be easy for us to believe that there is some kind of philosophical or tangible divide between the military and the rest of society, our men and women in uniform are just as much a part of our communities as the rest of us.

Ask anyone who lives there, and they’ll tell you that Ft. Hood is just as much a part of Killeen as Killeen is a part of Ft. Hood. Both communities interact with each other, and the success of each is critical to the other. In Ft. Hood, soldiers and their families may live behind barbed wire fences and guarded gates, but you’d be hard pressed to find any citizen of Killeen who wouldn’t consider them neighbors.

The communities are so intertwined that thousands of civilians who live in Killeen work on Ft. Hood, and one of the twelve killed last week was indeed a civilian.

History has often drawn a distinction between the military and society, and rightly so. In the past, such was the case in almost all nations. That is, until ours.

America changed that. Our military, even the portion of it that lives on a base, is as involved and interacts with the civilian population as any other part of our society does.

That’s what I feel we should always remember. Wearing a uniform only superficially distinguishes those who wear it from the rest of us. Underneath though, the person who wears it is just like you and me. They have the same feelings of patriotism, kinship, and love. A loss for them is just as hard as it would be for us.

Last week’s events were a stark reminder of that. A military base, a city, and a whole nation were united with the same feelings of loss and sadness, but also with resolve and determination.

Indeed, despite all of the barriers we may throw up to distinguish ourselves from one another, we must never forget, especially in times like this, that we are now, and forever will be, “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Regardless of whether of not a few of us wear camouflage.

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