rr brown

Sgt. Major Bob Brown

After enlisting in March 1945, Rush County resident Robert “Bob” Brown served in World War II, the Korea and the Vietnam war. After 24 years in the military Brown retired to civilian life. The decorated United States Marine Sergeant Major answers a series of questions regarding his thoughts on current American patriotism.

(Q.) Do you feel that Americans’ patriotism has diminished in recent years?

(A.) “Yes, I do. We in the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the honor guard noticed it even prior to 9-11. Since that time a lack of participation by our friends, not only here locally but throughout the country, has been alarming. I don’t know their reasons, but people don’t show up as in years past. At some functions there have only been a half dozen people in attendance. We get concerned because, as veterans, we feel that we owe this to our friends who have given the ultimate sacrifice. While we are still here and alive we feel that we owe this to them to honor their memory and hold up the flag. It is ours and all Americans’ duty to be patriotic and be red, white and blue.”

(Q.) What do think has brought about this change?

(A.) “I really don’t know. As veterans, we believe in America and our flag. We just want everybody else to embrace those feelings. They use to many years ago, and they were brought up that way. I know because they were raised and grew up here. I believe they just need to get back in the habit of being patriotic.”

(Q.) Do you feel Americans are backing current military efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq?

(A.) “That is an important issue and a tough question. I think they should, and not just because our boys and gals are over there in harm’s way. I feel that we also need to stand and back our national leaders, give or take the politics of it. The president is the one who orders the military around, if he says ‘go’ we saddle up and go. As military personnel we didn’t ask why, that’s our obligation. We took an oath when we went in the service to honor and obey. That is what we did in the past and our men today are doing the same thing. Some of these men and women are going back into harm’s way for the second and third time. Truthfully speaking, they may be questioning ‘is my time going to be up this time?’ We need to back them, support their efforts, and we need to keep them in our prayers too.”

(Q.) With many young people choosing not to join the military do you think we should reinstate the draft?

(A.) “We need the young people to be patriotic. We need the young people to go into the service. I feel that in many cases they need that experience. When I returned from Vietnam and arrived at the airport, I was appalled at the way some individuals treated the service people. I began thinking then that something is wrong with our country. We don’t show respect and honor to those who have placed their lives on the line, so others could be what they are and do what they want to do. If the young people today only realized what a great opportunity the military would be for them. They could go into the service, put in three or four years, and let Uncle Sam help them further their education. I feel they will be a much better person from the military experience.”

(Q.) Do you think that the changes since 9-11 have been patriotic or merely camouflage in the eyes of most Americans?

(A.) “We don’t have the freedoms we use to. I feel that many of the issues are camouflaged. The government puts a lot of information out that they want you to hear or read, although all of it may not be the complete truth. I feel that the media, from the top rung down, needs to tell the truth and the whole truth about what is going on. Don’t give us the negative information all of the time. We know what the negatives are. There are a lot of good things going on in Iraq and Afghanistan. When the soldiers return they will tell you we have been doing this and that for the kids over there in their schooling and building their communities back up. It is not American to keep the truth from people. The truth is necessary for us back here to have pride in what our troops are doing over there.”

(Q.) Do you think we take care of our veterans the way they were promised we would?

(A.) “I don’t think so. In many ways there is a lot of distance between what we were promised and what we found waiting when we returned from active duty. It would mean a lot if people in general would show compassion and kindness to military personnel when they return home. Those in the service have given their most, and trying to get the human body to calm down after some of those experiences and being in an atmosphere like that (war) takes some doing. We, as Americans, need to know and better understand that.”

Recommended for you