(This was originally published April 16, 2006 while I was serving in Habbaniya, Iraq)
My father served in a civilian capacity in Vietnam before the war started. He went to Ft. Benning and became a Green Beret. After serving as a Staff Sergeant and an artillery gun chief, he became an officer. He served for nearly 30 years and retired as a colonel. So you would expect someone from his posterity to continue the tradition. Based on personality, I just would have expected it to be one of my brothers instead of me.
After looking back on my nearly 24-year military career I wonder sometimes not only how I made it this far, but how I joined in the first place. I still don’t see myself as the military type. But am I glad I have served? Absolutely. And nothing has made my service more worthwhile than having been able to participate in setting up a beachhead for liberty in the Middle East.
Some of my sons express interest in the military from time to time. Based on personality, I suspect that a couple of them will join. But I might be surprised at who it actually is when it all comes down to it. Will I encourage them to serve in the military? Absolutely. I already do. The promulgation of freedom is the noblest of endeavors.
The younger American generation, I believe, has a higher level of intelligence than my generation. A higher level of intelligence demands a higher level of respect. A higher level of intelligence is more likely to demand to know the why of things. But if it knows the why, and the why is valid, you can count on its support. Higher intelligence is also more likely to contemplate and select the best of the moral aspects of life.
This accounts for a percentage of the younger generation who perhaps don’t see the urgency of our service in Iraq—who wish we would pull up our tent stakes and come home. Many of them are asking ‘why’? But intelligent people can be persuaded to see that if we pull up tent stakes in a sandstorm, the tent and everything in it will blow away and be destroyed.
To an extent, the questioning of our purpose in Iraq makes for a healthy discussion. What is not healthy is the effect a small percentage of America’s social elite has on the perspective of the younger generation. I think it is despicable that:
- A moviestar can consider himself and expert on foreign policy
- A news organization can editorialize every day on its front page
- A political party can be so bent on survival that it subscribes to the truth only when its purposes are suited
The ideal that was uniquely American came into being despite insurmountable odds. But liberty is no longer just an American ideal. Against insurmountable odds, liberty will continue to win. The vanguard of liberty will continue to push back fear and ignorance around the globe. That fact is already being demonstrated. Too many things—the most notable to me of which are 3 peaceful, on-schedule Iraqi elections—have happened that logically shouldn’t have. America is a choice land, and despite a few very unsightly blemishes (3 of which are bullet-listed above), we will continue to carry the torch of freedom. As those nations of the earth benighted by despots see the light of liberty they will throw off the chains that have been forged for them. To think, say, and do what one wants is a right which, once realized, is difficult to extinguish.
To you, young Americans, we prepare to pass the Torch. You are intelligent, so you can ferret out the facts from the spewage of fiction that bombards you every day. You are moral, because you value your freedom to speak and do as you choose, and you are learning that this right is important and imperative for all mankind. Do I think you’re up to such a monumental task? Absolutely.