Citizen Soldier


Contributing Editor
Walt Pickut

These two words are heavily loaded with great significance, implications, and innuendo today, both positive and negative.

There were times in human history when the words were inseparable. A person could not be one without being the other.

Non-citizens in ancient Rome, for example, were promised the privilege and the rights of Roman citizenship in exchange for completing 25 years of military service in a military branch reserved for aliens. Though the terms were different, some of the ancient Greek city-states also linked military service and citizenship.

That raises two questions worth considering today:

1. What is citizenship worth?

2. Will people fight for it?

That which costs nothing is often said to be worth the price. Yet we Americans are among the proudest people on Earth of our citizenship, freely gained at birth. But everybody knows… “You can’t get something for nothing.” In the Unites States we get the value before we pay for it. Few products come with that sweet a deal.

We are trusted to pay our debt. The founders of the United States thought we were honorable people. Naturally, we pay taxes, but the harder question whether we think it is valuable enough to fight for it. Some people do. Some even die for it.

This week your Jamestown Gazette invites you to celebrate Veteran’s Day again, this year on Sunday, November 11. Contributing writer, Bob Houston, offers us three deeper looks at various aspects of the service so many have given in payment for the privilege of their, and our, citizenship.

Whether you celebrate by watching a parade, attending a VFW event or even simply taking a day off work, this year maybe it would be a good idea to let yourself be inspired by the value of your own citizenship.

Throughout history, civilizations and nations and tribes often have valued citizenship so highly, only the men and women honorable enough to risk – and sometimes lose – their lives to earn it were granted it.

If you haven’t thought of it that way lately, let this Veteran’s Day inspire you to do so. The privilege is worth much more than simply paying taxes to pay for the goods and services that make us comfortable.

If your citizenship does not seem more valuable to you, maybe you are not using it enough to enjoy it. Citizenship gives you the power to help shape and protect the civilization that gave you all of its privileges at birth… and trusted you to use it well.

If military service was not your way of paying your country back, consider the power of voting, consider the value of conducting honest business with integrity, consider helping every citizen receive an education and stay healthy… and if you can’t do those yourself, vote for the people you think will do it best. Voting is a way to pay a debt none of can deny we owe.

Enjoy the read.

Walt Pickut

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Walt Pickut
Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.