Tag Archive for 'citizen soldiers'

Remembering America’s militia

Reasonable people disagree on the origins of Memorial Day. But most accept that the practice of decorating graves of Americans who died in military service began in earnest during the Civil War.

On May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan, Commander of the Army of the Republic, made Memorial Day official with General Order No. 11, which stated in part, “… the 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country …” And other than Congress making Memorial Day a national holiday and affixing it to the last Monday in May, America has since honored its fallen heroes from all conflicts pretty much as General Logan ordered.

When America issued its first call to arms – before it had a professional army – that call went to the militia, which was identified as “all able-bodied men.” Calling themselves the “Minutemen,” because they could be ready to fight on a minute’s notice, they were primarily shopkeepers, craftsmen, farmers, etc. Today, we call them small business owners.

From as far away as Scotland, America’s Minutemen were impressive. Writing about the colonies’ quest for independence in “The Wealth of Nations,” Adam Smith predicted America would prevail thanks to its militia which, “…turns from its primary citizen character into a standing army.” By the 20th century, state militias had become the National Guard. And in 1916, the National Defense Act created the Reserves.

Prior to the war with Spain in 1898, latter-day Minutemen served only on American soil. But ever since – including two World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq twice, and Afghanistan – America has deployed citizen-soldiers alongside regular forces, around the world. Indeed, in Iraq and Afghanistan, Guard and Reserve members have accounted for one-third of U.S. forces, as well as a comparable percentage of casualties.

On this Memorial Day, as we honor all who have paid the ultimate price in service to this country, let’s also remember the long tradition of America’s small business volunteers, including employees, who served honorably and courageously on behalf of a grateful nation.

It’s hard enough leaving family to march into harm’s way. But the degree of difficulty of that commitment is compounded for Guard and Reserve volunteers who also disconnect from businesses and full-time careers.

America would not have endured without those who “turn from primary citizen character into a standing army.”


This morning on The Small Business Advocate Show I talked more about the sacrifices of America’s citizen soldiers and offered two poems in memory of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Click on one of the links below to download or listen.

America would not have endured without citizen soldiers

Freedom isn’t free

Check out more great SBA content HERE!

Saluting our armed forces, including those from small business

Remarking on the devotion of his fighting men, Napoleon is supposed to have said, “A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon.”

He was talking about an idea, a concept, vision, belief system, anything that a person values more than his or her own convenience, safety and even that person’s very life.

The men and women who serve in the military of the United States do so because of devotion to what their country stands for, and hundreds of thousands of them are currently still in harm’s way in two different conflicts, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Lately the news media has abandoned most of what our military is doing in these countries, for at least two reasons: 1) Economic challenges are more compelling than war these days; and 2) just as 10,000 planes landing safely doesn’t sell papers, at least in Iraq, the recent success of our military in helping this country claim self-determination and install a form of democracy is now tantamount to all those safe landings.

But make no mistake, our armed forces are risking their lives every day in official conflicts as well as engaging in the training that prepares them to pursue a military mission if and when their government calls.

Today, more Americans are associated with small business, as owners and employees, than ever before. And since our global military commitments are increasingly being delivered by citizen-soldiers in the National Guard and Reserves, it follows that small business people are increasingly inconveniencing themselves on behalf of their country at the minimum and experiencing a high casualty rate at the maximum.

So, on behalf of all of America’s men and women in our armed services, not especially, but absolutely including our small business brothers and sisters, let’s all take a moment to stand erect, heels locked, chest and jaw out, and salute these 21st century heroes. Because when their country needed them, they said, “Send me!” And so they went. And so they still go.

Recently, on my small business radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, I talked about these special Americans. I hope you’ll take 6 minutes to listen to my thoughts and please, feel free to leave yours.

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