Boots on the Ground

Just something I wanted to get off my chest that has nothing to do with science fiction:

“Boots on the ground” – it’s a term the military and intelligence operations use to describe whenever any of their personnel are in a particular area. And some civilian groups use it for the same thing. I’ve even done it myself.

But in the wake of the raid in Pakistan that led to the death of Usama bin Laden, I’ve been re-thinking my use of the term for those who are helping with this site’s efforts to expand our coverage. And this simple thing has served to reinforce something that’s been in the back of my mind for a while, especially since 9-11.

I’ve been reflecting on how casually I’ve used the term, and have come to the conclusion that our “boots on the ground” who serve in the United States military and intelligence groups deserve to have a few things for themselves. They have their own language, their own culture, and their own way of saying certain things.

We take a lot of things for granted in this country. Our homes, our families, our jobs, our hobbies. We take for granted the notion that our friends will be there tomorrow, and that we have all the time in the world to say those things we need to say to people. And we never quite make the leap in logic that it’s a flawed way of thinking that we live with every day.

The United States military uses the most sophisticated technology on Earth to defend and protect, and I have a healthy respect for them, and for our allies around the world. And for them, the fact that it could be their “last day” doing anything is more real, more immediate.

So out of respect for them, I’m going to stop calling our contributors “boots on the ground”.  Is this a silly notion? Maybe. But I never want to forget – or casually dismiss – the sacrifice that the true “boots” do for us each and every day.

And for those of you dear readers who don’t live in the United States, I hope you’ll indulge me in my rant. For despite whatever flaws there may be, it is the United States that continues to stand for freedom throughout the world. And those soldiers and spies who fight for that freedom deserve our sacred honor and respect.

Jason P. Hunt

Jason P. Hunt (founder/EIC) is the author of the sci-fi novella "The Hero At the End Of His Rope". His short film "Species Felis Dominarus" was a finalist in the Sci Fi Channel's 2007 Exposure competition.

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