WHO HAS THE MORAL COURAGE TO SAY, "ENOUGH!"
by Andy Weddington
Monday, 03 November 2014
"It is curious that physical courage be so common in the world and moral courage so rare." Mark Twain
Tomorrow we vote.
Indirectly, that is the topic for today's comment. Directly, the matter is more important - the security and safety, the survival, of the United States.
Last week I was in Washington, D.C. for military training I never expected, in my wildest dreams, to receive. So it was.
Included in the program was several hours in the Pentagon. A retired Navy vice admiral led our small group - beginning with an exterior orientation of the 9/11 attack then moving inside (tribute room; chapel; and reflection room) for more perspective. His macro story with micro details about those murdered was compelling. Sobering. How strange it was to learn that smoking saved the lives of a general and his sergeant major. That's another story among many others. And time there was for pause to think about the maniacal enemy attacking our country and way of life.
We spent about a half hour with Admiral Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations; sat in the Hall of Heroes (Medal of Honor awardees); and visited the room where the press is briefed. More perspective and more time still to think about the maniacal enemy attacking our country and way of life.
That evening an email from my brother included a link to an obituary. The father of a childhood friend and schoolmate died a week prior. He was 93. The photograph was from his young man days and I was stunned how much at that age my friend looked like his Dad. A sentence caught my attention: "He was a veteran of the U. S. Marine Corps, serving during World War II."
I've known his two sons for nearly 50 years. But never knew their Dad was a Marine. Now thinking back on our youth it makes perfect sense - his demeanor and energy and aim to get things done was every bit Marine. Of course.
Finishing the obituary and reflecting I felt sick not knowing he wore our eagle, globe, and anchor and missing out on not hearing his stories. I still feel sick.
Back from D.C., Saturday evening my wife and I attended a Marine Corps Birthday Ball at the Officers' Club aboard the Combat Center, 29 Palms. Recognized during the cake-cutting ceremony the oldest Marine present was a 95 years-old sergeant major. He was clad in Dress Blues with large medals. An artilleryman, he fought in World War II - hitting beachheads in the South Pacific (and he fought in Korea and Vietnam). Time for pause to think about the sacrifices of Marines, and Sailors, defeating America's enemies.
The video message of General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., USMC, 36th Commandant, was played. It opened with footage of Marines assaulting beaches during World War II complemented with their memories. More time for pause to think about the maniacal enemy attacking America; then and today.
Sunday morning I sat down to write my friend a condolences note. About to make the first stroke I thought how dumb and called him (last time we spoke was 9 years ago at a high school reunion - I know, how ridiculous it's been that long).
Having lost my Dad 10 months ago I understand what he's going through. "Tough sledding," I offered, as a friend wrote me when learning of my Dad's death. I've not heard it put any better. We reminisced a bit. Then I mentioned his Dad being a Marine. He said his Dad didn't talk about it when he was growing up and only in later years was his brother able to get a few stories. Mr. "C" landed at Saipan and Tinian (Marines know those were fierce, bloody battles - with nearly 3,800 KIA and 12,000 WIA between the two) - 15 June through 01 August 1944. And he probably landed on other beachheads, too. He was a radioman. His son told me his Dad did tell him everywhere he went there were at least two Marines protecting him. Surely a Navajo codetalker was alongside. Imagine his stories.
Now his battle stories will never be heard. What a shame.
On the flight home from D.C. I finished Bing West's book, 'One Million Steps: A Marine Platoon at War.' (Akin commentary: http://acoloneloftruth.blogspot.com/2014/10/humps-truthtellers.html)
More time for pause to think about the maniacal enemy attacking our country and way of life and fit that brutal ground combat in perspective with the previous week's training. It's a big puzzle, but not complicated.
And then more thoughts about women in combat from a Marine warrior came to mind. The words of General Robert H. Barrow, USMC (an infantryman who held command in World War II; Korea; Vietnam) must be heard - again, and again, and again - until all pause to listen and think.
Some of his thoughts...
"Those who advocate change have some strange arguments..."
"Well exposure to danger is not combat..."
"I cannot imagine why we are engaged in this debate..."
"They changed the policy to fit the pressure..."
"And I found no where in my mental explorations any place for women to be down in the ground combat elements..."
"If you persist in pushing this down to the ground combat area it would destroy the Marine Corps. Simple as that! Something no enemy has been able to do in over two hundred years..."
And with that...
Such irony - a maniacal enemy is determined to destroy the United States of America while the United States of America is plowing determinedly ahead to destroy the world's most formidable fighting force; her own Marine Corps - our first line of defense (in partnership with the Navy).
What in god's name are we doing?
That spiritual Christian practice, in our country of 70+ percent Christians, is being mocked, attacked, and banned. Good grief.
Not hardly. There's too great a rush to take the easy route to appease a minority of far left feminists; nut jobs, wackos, and idiots; and politicians (pardon the redundancy) who have no clue what they are talking about.
That's not a course of action.
So, after last week, today I ask one simple but tough question: "Who in uniform, what Marine generals and Navy admirals, has the moral courage to say, 'Enough!'"
That is, "Whom will set aside personal "safety" (careerism) for national security?"
And yes, when it comes to women in combat (especially ground), the conditions are mutually exclusive.
Not for an instant do I (nor anyone I know who has devoted serious thought to the matter) buy that the majority of generals and admirals believe absolutely - with all their education; training; experience; knowledge of history; mind, heart, and soul - that women in combat is a good idea.
Gentlemen and ladies - Moral courage is duty. Lest we not forget our naval service driving Core Values: Honor. Courage. Commitment.
So how about proving that during these perilous times moral courage is not the rare trait Mr. Twain deduced from history and his observations. So go ahead you generals, "platoon," and you, admirals, "division" and "squadron." It's a team fight!
How interesting the five-point star(s) worn on collar, epaulet, or sleeve if connecting the exterior points with straight lines and, too, the interior bases where the lines of each point diverge (but converge to form another point), a pentagon is formed. And, maybe not so coincidentally, that is where war is waged. Now is your time to battle. Yes, a heavy load to shoulder. Even more so than that carried by the infantryman. But "easy" is not an 'F' word. Take a million steps. And more, if that's what it takes.
Thus I again offer commentary directed specifically at the flag officer community - admirals and generals. For the overarching message was not about one new admiral but about the five-point star, and an 'F' word for each point, that admiral pinned on: http://acoloneloftruth.blogspot.com/2014/10/f-words-for-flags.html
By the way, fellow Americans - "We, the people..." (sound familiar?) - are in this together. It is us the enemy is trying to kill. Vote responsibly. It matters. A vote is part of the big but not complicated puzzle. Our security and way of life is at stake.
It's as simple as that.
General Barrow testifies: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fy--whDNNKk
The author is an 0302 - infantryman.