Why does someone risk their lives for total strangers? We've all heard the phrase, 'I want to be part of something bigger than myself,' but what does that mean? Like most of us, I'm trying to comprehend the loss of those three brave Idaho National Guard Aviators who lost their lives this week during a training exercise.

How many of us understand what goes into serving in the military? We have no draft. Our military is an all-volunteer force, which means we have people who put themselves in harm's way to protect our nation. Our nation has been so blessed that some of us have a hard time believing that other countries want to destroy us if given the opportunity.

Less than one percent of our population is eligible for military service. The training is demanding, requiring strangers to become tighter than most families. Military service does not stop with service members. Military families share in the sacrifice of being away from home in strange lands. Some folks have to serve in a 'hardship tour, which means you're separated from your family for an extended period. Let's not forget combat deployments where our enemies want to kill our troops.

So why do so many young and not so young Americans serve our country. Because in a cynical world, they believe in the American Ideals are worth protecting. Without their protection, we would have no nation, no government, no principles.

What can we give them in return for their noble work? I'd suggest lots of prayers and thank yous.


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