15 April 2013


by Andy Weddington
Monday, 15 April 2013

Duty. Honor. Country. 
My wife, just back from nearly a year of duty in an imminent danger zone, had post-deployment matters to tend to so during the past couple of weeks I've been away from home. Ten of those days we spent living across the street from a busy airfield - day and late into the night listening to the comforting sounds of jets and helicopters - on Naval Air Station North Island. 

While deployed, daily I said a prayer for her safety and for the safety of all those in and out of uniform selflessly serving - whether forward-deployed or not for even training is serious, dangerous business. 

Some prayers were answered.

Some prayers were not answered - so goes DoD casualty releases.

I read all the releases (and have for the past seven years). With some frequency a name or hometown rings familiar so I pursue learning more about them - reading local newspaper coverage. Some did more, far more, than their fair share - multiple combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I've spent considerable time thinking about the 1% (the volunteers and families) of our country shouldering the burden of uniformed service. And in particular mulling over those who have or will serve multiple combat tours.

Volunteers or not, how much can and should a country ask of a citizen? So, I have a question for President Obama - a man obsessed with spreading the wealth and sharing,

"Mr. President, why are you not demanding, compelling more Americans share in the responsibility of uniformed service to country?"

While thinking that one over...

Yesterday a retired Marine friend sent me the story of Master Sergeant Raul (Roy) Perez Benavidez, U. S. Army. The video is just shy of 25 minutes but please make the time to watch and listen to two leaders - one, a president, tell another man's story (a profile of courage and survival and will to live) and the other, an Army non-commissioned officer, humbly tell his story: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oUtJxE4sjs

Then ask yourself the question,

"With men such as Master Sergeant Benavidez, and the many men and women of like character and courage and capability who walk amongst us, why do we Americans allow (that is, elect) clowns, crooks, criminals, and cowards the privilege of representing us, of holding any elective office?"

As Americans shun losers, I don't get it. At all.

For winners we have - winners we need.

It's past time to change the damn paradigm.

Post Script

Master Sergeant Roy Benavidez (05 August 1935 - 29 November 1998)

Author's Endnote

An odd but fortuitous encounter happened the morning before leaving the Naval Air Station...

Seated at a picnic table where staying, I was completing a watercolor when a gentleman approached saying he'd been watching from his room window. He, as his wife walked up, asked if he could take a look. Sure. He remarked he'd recently retired from the Army and had done some drawing years ago and was thinking of picking up the pencil again. When I mentioned being a Marine he said his younger brother was a Marine still on active duty. I asked his name. I know Matt (multiple combat tours). Small world. Smaller Corps.

"From the Picnic Table"
(11 x 14 watercolor crayon on cold-pressed paper)








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