Honoring The Few Who Defend Us

Jerry Coffee
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Wednesday - May 16, 2007
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“Never was so much owed by so many to so few.” - Winston Churchill, Aug. 20, 1940

The above quote was in reference to the debt owed by the British people to the men and women - pilots and ground support - of the Royal Air Force (RAF) who, against overwhelming odds, bravely fought off the vaunted German Luftwaffe, eventually - but at a great cost in lives - driving them from the skies over the British Isles. This “Battle of Briton” was largely a desperate holding action until we “Yanks” joined the fray with our fighters and bombers, and the RAF held.

But Churchill’s enduring statement of appreciation has transcended the decades, and should inspire the awareness in each of us to consider the debt we owe to our fighting men and women in the Middle East and dozens of other outposts throughout a dangerous world. Indeed, never have so many Americans owed so much to so few other Americans. And the operative word is “few.”


America is a nation of 300 million people, yet the active and reserve/National Guard components of the U.S. military are comprised of only 2,685,713, less than 1 percent of our total population. At the very tip of the spear are those Army and Marine Corps “boots on the ground” in Iraq and Afghanistan. Add the president’s surge force of 25,000 and the Navy and Air Force Special Ops, tactical air and logistics personnel, and the total approximates 700,000. Think of it! Less than 1/4 of 1 percent of our entire population are voluntarily standing between us and a merciless and determined enemy.

Iraq has become the magnet for fanatical Muslim terrorists from all over the world, especially and increasingly for members of al Qaida, our primary nemesis from 9-11-01. The outcome in Iraq will determine the future course of our war against global Muslim jihad and, yes, our national survival. And nobody knows this better than our “few” in the Middle East.

May is Military Appreciation Month. Needless to say, this is a cause that should transcend politics and partisanship, one we can all embrace with enthusiasm and sincerity.


There will be formal events honoring military personnel and their families throughout the month, and they will be well-publicized. The Hale Koa Hotel, for example, will hold special dinner shows for military families May 16 and 23, with a special “weekend bash” for Memorial Day. The Union 76 service station in Aiea is ahead of the game, having already occasionally offered free gas for active duty military personnel.

Wherever we shop for anything we should ask if they give a military discount - especially during this month. And then we should patronize those that do.

May is the month to go out of our way to express our gratitude and appreciation to every military man, woman and family member we know or encounter. They are doing the heavy lifting for the rest of us now. And hopefully, our gratitude will become a habit far beyond this month.

Indeed, we the many owe nothing less to those “few.”

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