Proud Moments

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John Stuart Mill once said: “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things.  The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse.  The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”

 At 19 I had no real idea of what this meant.  I thought I knew why I was joining the Navy; I wanted a job and some money for education.  My uncles and many other family members had served and I had listened to their views on service and sacrifice.  But it wasn’t until I was in bootcamp at Recruit Training Center, San Diego and was in formation and our Company, Company 939 (1980) was commissioned that the oath of enlistment really meant something.

 That oath was a contract between me and my fellow Americans that I would do all I could to protect and defend our way of life “against all enemies; foreign and domestic”.  That I would, if necessary lay down my life to ensure the preservation of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.  And as I stood there and realized what I was doing I felt a surge of pride unlike anything I’d experienced before.

 I want that pride I felt back for Americans.  I don’t care about their color, religion, or even their sexual orientation.  Almost 10 years ago I had the honor of giving the oath of enlistment to my eldest daughter, M…  She joined the Army a few weeks after turning 17 and graduating high school.  Every parent should know that pride; of seeing their child grow and understand that they are volunteering to serve something far greater than themselves. 

 In our country today there is a cavernous divide between the right and the left.  And if I am looking at history correctly there has been a lot of shifting in the last 50 years or so.  I don’t want to be political here, suffice it to say that I’m slightly right of center.  It seems to me that we have gone away from the “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” of Kennedy, to a nation where it seems that the majority of people are seemingly waiting for the government to hand them everything.  I have found that the harder I work for something, the more I appreciate and enjoy it.

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