This country has always been appreciative of its military.
But our support for our men and women in uniform has not been uniform itself.
Drunken sailors in peacetime are not always welcome on the wharf.
Equally inebriated soldiers, airmen, and marines--and, let's face it, young people freshly in the military, truly away from the constraints of home and family for the first time, facing the rite of passage into adulthood and unsure of the exact approach, and flushed with the pumped-up pride of being a "GI"--can, occasionally, overindulge and become rowdy.
Of course, I never did. Nevertheless, we expect them to lay their lives on the line if necessary, and they seldom if ever fail us.
But they do more than that. A new report from Fort Bragg says the military contributed nearly six billion dollars to its regional economy last year.
The study looked at the effect that Fort Bragg and adjacent Pope Air Force base had in Cumberland and eight surrounding counties.
Similar effects surround Camp Lejeune and New River air facility and Onslow County's neighbors, the Cherry Point Marine Air Station and Craven County's neighbors, and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and Wayne County's neighbors.
We not only demand their service, often at risk to their lives, and for not a lot of money, but we take the money too.