Colonel Nelson L Mellitz, USAF, Ret
Jewish War Veterans of the United States, National Vice Commander
It is a difficult time for our Jewish communities, nation, and the world as we continuously face the many ongoing challenges from both internal and external forces. A US State Department report has given me a sense of how great the threats we face are (National Security Council Paper 68 – NSC-68). The report identified our adversaries as the following: animated by a new fanatic faith, antithetical to our own, and seeking to impose its absolute authority over the rest of the world. This enemy is waging political, economic, and psychological warfare against us. The integrity and vitality of our way of life and government is in greater jeopardy than ever. This report remains as relevant today as when it was published in 1950.
The report, NSC-68, states that the United States needs to lead the “free world” toward a “common purpose” and that Americans must grasp the threats posed by China, Russia, and jihadist and internal extremist.
Jewish men and women have served in every United States conflict, war, and peacetime operation since the Revolutionary War in 1775. In the modern era, our country has been at war continuously in one form or another since December 7, 1941 and Jewish men and women have volunteered and served in every battle. Today we continue serving our communities, nation, and world in times of trouble whether it’s a war, pandemic, environmental impact event or economic turmoil.
Why do we serve in the United States of America’s military?
- Pride in the United States, whose democracy has been won through the sacrifice of our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents,
- To affirm our values in the United States: freedom of religion, speech, tolerance, the importance of the individual, and
- A weak military invites aggression from enemies, while military strength deters it.
Our country is at a crossroads and as Jewish American military and veterans we are feeling it. We stand for the United States flag and we honor the rights of all Americans in accordance with the Constitution of the United States. We embrace our differences and learn from each other. Our freedoms of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are not bestowed on us but earned by those Jews that served in uniform and especially by those that have given the ultimate sacrifice.
As Jews we learn values from the Torah, family, and friends that we affirm while serving in the military. These values include freedom of speech and religious worship, tolerance, the importance of individuality, and use of reason. If we do not serve, can’t we continue to practice and teach these values?
In our constantly changing world we have Chinese prison camps, Uighur concentration camps, the suppression of Hong Kong citizens, Russian aggression against Ukraine, Iran’s suppression of freedom for its own people and its continuous aggression against Israel and other Middle eastern countries, etc.
Internally, the United States should develop strong relations with democratic freedom-loving countries to counter those that would take away our hard-earned constitutional rights. The Unites States must “strategically” invest more resources in weapon systems and the training of uniformed military members so we can be prepared to defend our values. Currently the US defense budget is just 3.1% of the GDP.
Domestically, Jewish men and women have learned that during the nearly 250 years we’ve been citizens of this great Republic we must constantly defend our freedom. What better way to defend and preserve freedom than to serve as members of the United States military? We must continue the hard-earned tradition of our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents to put on the United States military uniform, so we can pay forward to our children and grandchildren the freedom of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
This article was originally published in the Chanukah 2021 issue of the Jewish American Warrior.