Letter: Service to country not a partisan commitment

From: John Drebus

Nashville, Indiana

We make many commitments during our lifetime: Marriage, faith, employment, financial. How we meet these commitments defines our character. This year’s SALUTE! concert in Columbus provided a vivid example of what commitment means.

On the one hand, a vocalist committed to perform at this annual tribute to military veterans. She withdrew from that agreement at the eleventh hour, leaving the Columbus Philharmonic to scramble for a replacement.

The reason that the woman provided for her action was that she could not bring herself to appear at an event with the duly elected governor of Indiana due to political differences. Thus, she relegated herself to an insignificant footnote in what was truly a memorable performance.

As it turned out, the message by Gov. Mike Pence (from whom she fled) was appropriate, powerful and moving with a focus on veterans who made the supreme sacrifice of their lives to defend our country and freedoms.

The actions of all of our veterans provide a stark contrast of what it means to abide by a commitment. Members of our military do not renege on their commitment for political reasons. Even when they find themselves serving under a commander in chief for whom they did not vote and with whom they may strongly disagree, they continue to faithfully perform their duty.

Those who have not served with the armed forces can only imagine the stresses faced by the men and women in uniform. Even in peacetime this is a dangerous profession that can involve long periods in uncomfortable environments resulting in physical and mental exhaustion. There is the psychological stress of family separation for weeks, months, even years. Still our armed forces persevere and perform as they promised.

Combat has been succinctly and accurately described by General Sherman: War is hell. Yet when faced with the gates of hell, our service members courageously stay the course and meet their obligations — sometimes until their last breath.

As an Army veteran, I would like to thank Maestro David Bowden, soloist Donata Cucinotta, and the magnificent Columbus Philharmonic Orchestra for their artistic commitment honoring those who have served their country in uniform and particularly those service members who selflessly sacrificed their lives in our defense. Although this debt can never be repaid, it was beautifully acknowledged.