Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Of Irony And Grief Or Why Has He Turned His Back

Today the numbers are 4,158 and 30,324 and 591. I don't believe I need to tell you what those numbers represent because anyone who reads this blog knows what I write about and therefore they will intuitively know what those numbers represent. But I'm writing today to share with you what I believe those numbers and another number, 95,533 really represents.

I believe those numbers represent the back of a hero, a failure in victory, and a nation lost.

Some forty years ago I began a journey in the jungles of Vietnam that I now look back on with great pride. I look back with pride because I was lucky enough to experience a career with a military that was led by visionary officers who said "never again". Never again to politically motivated wars that were destined to end in disaster for our nation. Those officers and non-commissioned officers led in rebuilding and re-energizing a decimated force and in creating the finest military the world had ever seen as was demonstrated in Panama, Kosovo, Kuwait and Iraq and in many other places over the decades since Vietnam.

Today, I regret to say, that force has once again been decimated and the officers who built and led it have been cast aside like so much unwanted distraction. It has once again been decimated not by the enemy without but by the enemy within; by the misguided and uncaring political forces of this country led by George W. Bush and the Republican Congress of which John McCain is one of the more prominent leaders.

As a soldier and veteran that has witnessed and experienced the rise and subsequent decline of our military I am most aggrieved by the actions of Senator John McCain. A man who experienced the fiasco that was the Vietnam war in the most cruel and inhumane manner appears to me to be turning a blind eye to history. It appears to me he is turning a blind eye to not only his own sacrifices but also to the sacrifices of others both past and present. As I observe Senator McCain's actions I must ask myself why? Why has John McCain conducted himself this way and I find this question leads to only one answer. It appears to me that John McCain is doing this for the basest of reasons. For self aggrandizement. I can come to no other conclusion based on what I myself have observed over the last eight years.

By his own words and actions it appears to me that John McCain has forgotten that his instruction at the Naval Academy focused "on integrity, honor, and mutual respect based on the moral values of respect for human dignity, respect for honesty and respect for the property of others."

Now our great nation faces an election of epic proportions and we must ask ourselves a very basic and serious question. Do we want a president who would turn his back on his own sacrifices as well as the sacrifices of others for the purpose of self promotion or do we want a president who looks to the past for knowledge and wisdom and to the future for possibilities and inspiration?

Political discourse and "media buzz" across our nation is filled with a sickening silence. Yes I said silence. I say silence because there is silence in the noise and lack of substance that is our nations political discourse and in the media that is called news. That silence is ripping our nation apart. It leaves the soldiers and civilians that have lost their lives and been maimed by this war in a vacuum of silence to be ignored by this nation as we grovel in our own self pity because we've ignored civic responsibility and we've spent ourselves into a hole as our infrastructure is crumbling around our ears.

Of course the numbers I mentioned at the beginning of this piece are the lives, both American and Iraqi, that have been sacrificed or permanently scarred by an unjust war perpetrated by George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, John McCain and the rest of the Republican Congress. This is the tragedy that is John McCain, a warrior who seems to have forgotten he was one. A warrior who would let his and the sacrifices of so many others be spent in vain as he pursues glory in higher office and refuses to let history be his teacher or the future be his beacon.

Those Are The Sergeant Major's Thoughts On That.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Honor - To Have And Have Not

After these many months of silence I find I am once again compelled to express my thoughts.

I have over recent months followed the presidential campaign quite closely and even more closely over the past two weeks and one very specific issue has become crystal clear to me which I want to share with you.

Throughout my life growing up in a military family and in my military career one predominate trait or quality was emphasized and driven home by both my family and every leader I have ever met. That trait or quality was honor. Just to refresh your memory the dictionary defines honor as, honesty, fairness, or integrity in one's beliefs and actions: a man of honor.

From the time that I had what I believe was probably my very first logical thought about the subject I do not believe that there was ever any doubt in my mind of what the meaning of honor was nor was there ever any doubt of what actions honor required. There was a second thing that I never had any doubt about and that was that once ones honor was compromised it was a permanent and oft never fading blemish.
I know this from personal experience and my own personal failures against which I struggle to this very day. I point that out because I believe that even the most honorable and well intentioned people with the most hard earned sense of honor can fail and that they can be guilty of being dishonorable and I believe that that has happened in the presidential race.

I have known of John McCain for as long as he has been in the public eye. I have, as a fellow soldier and as a fellow citizen, respected him for his extraordinary military and public service. In fact
I believe we as a nation should respect and appreciate and yes honor what he has done for our nation. I believe his have been the actions of an exceptionally brave and historically honorable man.

However there is something else that I believe. I believe that past honorable service and dedication to duty and country does not immunize one against poor judgment, failure or even from doing the wrong thing. I believe that ones honor is not something one does once and then puts it on a shelf where it shines forever. Honor is second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour and year by year. It is only as untarnished and undiminished as ones past and ones last action.

It is with great sadness that I say to you that John McCain is not an honorable man today. The reason I say this is because I am observing and hearing reported by every major news organization in this country that he and his running mate are participating in and personally articulating blatant lies. These are not the actions of honorable people. When one is aspiring to the highest and second highest public offices in the land it is incumbent upon one to speak truth and only truth and to communicate about those issues that are vital and of importance to the citizens of the nation. It is not honorable for individuals to speak lies to the citizens and make unproven accusations against those whom they oppose. When one opposes another person in vying for public office it becomes even more important to insure that one speaks the truth and deals with issues and substantive differences and not innuendo and accusation.

The fact that John McCain is a former Naval Officer and a sitting United States Senator makes this lack of honor horribly reprehensible. But I think what makes this lack of honor so disgusting and even more vile is that he would lose himself to the point of using his own sacrifice and service as a shield to commit such petit dishonorable acts of lying. Conservative, liberal, or Independent, share his beliefs or not, it would be morally reprehensible for anyone to support someone who displays so little honor. Sometimes we must call them like they are. Prisoner of war or not service to country or not there is a line and John McCain and his running mate have crossed the line.

This nation has endured eight long years of lies and deceptions from the two highest ranking public figures in the country and virtually their entire administration. Our honor as a nation is not just blemished but in tatters and we cannot endure another four or eight years of the same. If for no other reason than the fact that John McCain and his vice presidential running mate have publicly lied and continue to lie this nation needs to insure that he does not occupy the office of the president. Our nation needs honor above all else at this crucial point in our history. With honor comes respect and from these come all else.

Those Are The Sergeant Major's Thoughts On That.