A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Jamie Ruehl: Happy Memorial Day weekend — A Generation X veteran’s perspective

I remember being a middle school boy watching my uncle don his Class-As and being impressed by his Ranger Tab with white threading. Uncle Roy was privileged to attend Ranger School between his Junior/Senior year in R.O.T.C. (Which is NOT normal). Ranger School is typically reserved for those who are already vested. Uncle Roy got to go Ranger School before he went to Medical School. I’m pretty sure seeing him sharply dressed with all of his accolades on his Army Uniform was when I realized I too would serve. In high school, there was a recruiter that worked pretty hard on me. He wanted me to enlist. I almost went that route, but I always felt
called to lead and with my parents' insistence and uncle’s mentorship, I decided to go the R.O.T.C. route.

When I started college in 1996, I was motivated to join the army a couple of ways: First and foremost, I got to serve my country. I always wanted to be a part of the fraternity of men who volunteered to “hold that line” and defend our great nation. I remember thinking in the mid 1990s, “why can’t we have a war for me to fight!”. I know now that was youthful ignorance speaking and a desire to prove myself to my community. Little did I know, a few years after signing up for R.O.T.C., I would get my chance to “go down range”. I also saw the military as a means to provide. When I graduated college, I would immediately be part of a profession. I would attend leadership schools, team management courses, instruction in world-class logistics and be trained in the “Art of War.” An added bonus was the R.O.T.C. scholarship which paid for 2 years of my bachelor’s degree.

Jamie Ruehl grew up in Erlanger. He graduated from St. Henry District High School, earned a degree in business administration from Xavier University, served the US Army on an ROTC Commission in 2001, attaining the rank of Captain and serving overseas. Back home, he graduated from Northern Kentucky University’s Executive Leadership and Organizational Change Master’s Program in 2018. He served as a Law Enforcement Officer for 8.5 years and was inducted into the American Police Hall of Fame. He has been a staff insurance adjuster since 2019 with a large carrier headquartered in Cincinnati. He is attempting to be the best possible husband to his wife of 15 years and best possible father to their 3 children. They live in Edgewood with their two dogs. He is a life-long distance runner.

I entered my military service at an interesting time. It was pre-9/11. The late 1990s were a bit overshadowed by the late 1980s and the victory we celebrated against the Soviet Union in the Cold War. The United States was coming into it’s own as the World Leviathan. Most of the “Free World” relied on our military to police their regions and provide some sense of order. In 2023, the world still heavily relies on our Naval authority to secure the majority of the world's shipping lanes. In the 1990s there was a lot of prestige associated with our military, but that was starting to wane as we were looking for more purpose after the Cold War ended. What happens after the bully on the block gets defeated? Answer: power vacuum.

On September 11th, 2001, I was halfway through completing the US Army Infantry Officer’s Basic Course at Ft. Benning, GA. The planes hit the Twin Towers, Pentagon and a fourth plane had heroes onboard that saved countless lives. For me, that moment was reminiscent of the campy movie “Starship Troopers” when the bugs struck the planet with asteroids and all the recruits are running from their training to see what happened.

Here I was a new Lieutenant at Officer’s Basic Course in September 2001 and I recall our training cadre addressing my class saying; “Everything has changed! You aren’t just going to graduate from your Basic Courses and merely join units with a peacetime mission.” My naive wish from a few years earlier was horribly granted: I got my fight. Because of those attacks on our country, I would put “boots on ground” on multiple continents. I would get to see the real world outside of my American cocoon. I would see what true daily suffering was like and see how wonderful my home country is compared to the majority of the world.

It always amazes me when someone from the United States criticizes their own country for being “unfair” or “unjust.” The majority of the time the person pushing the criticism has never seen how the majority of the world lives and what true “unfair” or “unjust” living is. I can thank my military service for giving me the awareness of precisely how nice we have it in the good old USA.

Lately, there seems to be a large voice given to a lot of immature complaining by a bunch of undisciplined, overfed people. Those complaints are based on a very undeveloped understanding of reality and lack of knowledge about how the majority of the world’s population lives. The loud people in the U.S. seem to be attracting an equally immature crowd by way of young activists. Those activists seem to target any form of authority, but especially our police and our military.

And there is irony in their complaining. One of the biggest contributors to our society’s success is a peaceful and lawful environment where individual wealth can be built. The biggest and glaring difference between the US and “insert any 3rd world country” is security. People can’t thrive in un-secure environments. People can’t save and lawfully transfer wealth without a peaceful/secure society. We have our military and police to thank for that security.

A loud minority of our population seem to have forgotten how unfair life is when rule of law isn’t kept. Look at Retail America right now. In cities where security has been pushed aside in the name of “social justice”, lawlessness abounds and retail stores can no longer exist! Stealing, looting, robbing and other property crimes lead to defunct local economies. People have either never seen true unjust living conditions or forgotten how our secure society gives us a competitive advantage that we mustn’t take for granted.

As we celebrate Memorial Day Weekend and get ready for a summer filled with opportunity, let us remember how blessed we are to live in this country and all of the sacrifices made by so many men and women which enable us to pursue happiness.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment