Home arrow Sounding Off arrow Sounding Off arrow Our Greatest Asset Or Our Greatest Liability?
Our Greatest Asset Or Our Greatest Liability? Print E-mail
Written by Ray Fairman   
Digg!
A great many people think that they understand the military and law enforcement professions without ever having experienced either. Neither of these professions is ever going to make a person rich, so why would anyone want to be among the brotherhood of arms. Well I am going to take a moment to tell you why I joined the Marines back in "63". A great many of the reasons I will touch on also led me into law enforcement after my 10 years of active duty and also kept me in the USMCR for another 23 years. When it comes right down to it, I refused to retire from battle even after it became time to stop drawing a paycheck. Hence my new career as a sworn reserve police officer and a my assignment as a law enforcement chaplain who comes "armed with a Bible and a Glock."  To see how I feel about this issue, click on Read More.

Lead, Follow or <i>Pleeeezzzzz</i> Get outta the way!!
Lead, Follow or Pleeeezzzzz Get outta the way!!


Why I joined the Marine Corps.

I will never forget the day that I told my friends that I had enlisted in the Marine Corps back in 1963 and would likely find myself in Vietnam. Some of them said they understood my decision while others just gave me confused looks, blank stares or dismissive snorts and acted like I had lost my somewhat limited intelligence. Especially when they reminded me that I was only 17 years old.

According to todays standards, as defined by Sen. John Kerry, I don't fit into the stereotype of the American combat soldier. I graduated from high school, at the insistence of my Marine Corps recruiter, Gy/Sgt Leroy Stinert, near the middle of my class without much fanfare. I had attended 17 schools before accomplishing this feat. I spent 10 years on active duty, including my years in Vietnam, before I transferred to the Marine Reserves and entered full-time police work. That is when I started using my GI Bill to pursue a higher education. I subsequently acquired a BS in Criminology, a Masters in Public Administration and eventually a Ph.D in the Administration of Justice all while maintaining a voluntary military obligation. How uneducated is that Sen. Kerry? And to look at my IRS Form 1040 and the amount of tax I am required to send to Washington D.C., you would either never guess I am poor or downright understand why I am in such dire financial (Tax Poor) straights.

I come from a middle-class family. My father was a career Marine and my mom died in childbirth when I was 5 years old. I'm not an ethnic minority; I'm religious and I consider myself well educated. I own my own home and just celebrated my 37th wedding anniversary with my wife. I'm not the welfare recipient, intellectually challenged, poverty-stricken creature that many people like to envision as the modern American soldier. The real truth is, few military people fit that stereotype. According to a Department of Defense report, the average American soldier is more educated than his or her civilian counterpart, comes from a higher economic class, and equitably represents his ethnicity.

If I don't need to be told everything I need to do and can think for myself, why in the world did I join the military? I joined because I believed in doing things to the best of my ability. I joined because I loved my country and I trusted my government, but only as far as it allows its citizens to participate. I joined because I believed I could have an impact, no matter how small, on the way America operates. I joined because I believed that the freedoms and prosperity I enjoyed simply by virtue of having been born in this country were bought and paid for with the blood and sacrifices of generations of dedicated military men and women before me. I joined because, the lessons of the past can only reach the future by crossing over the bridges we build in the present.

I didn't join because I wanted revenge for Pearl Harbor, Korea or the infamous Gulf of Tonkin Incident. I didn't join because I wanted to kill people; and I didn't join because I wanted to go to war, although in all likelihood I knew that that was where I would end up. I want to be quite clear: I didn't join the military for political reasons either and hate to use a political party affiliation more than I hate to identify myself by a denominational moniker when referring to my Christianity. I most certainly did not join out of my love for the Republican or Democratic Party or any other group of special interest power brokers.

"After I met the elephant" (Saw Combat) I took some time to jot down my way of dealing with the internal conflicts: here are some of my thoughts:

A PATRIOT'S PRAYER

WHO AM I? A CHILD OF WAR, A VIETNAM HERO, OR AN AMERICAN WHORE?

WAS I A FOOLISH, SUCKERED SOUL, OR AN AMERICAN PATRIOT, PROUD AND BOLD?

WHAT MAKES ME DIFFERENT FROM YOU, OR YOU? AM I NOT LIKE YOU, OF YOU, YOU?

SURE I KILLED. FOR A CAUSE I THOUGHT WAS JUST. BUT VICTOR OR VICTIM, ALL TURN TO DUST.

WHO DIED BY MY HAND? NVA, VIETCONG, ALL HARDCORE. BUT NO INNOCENT BEINGS, AND NO SPOILS OF WAR.

REMEMBER THE BLAST, THE ARTILLERY'S ROAR? GRENADES, AND RIFLES, AND THOSE DEADLY CLAYMORES?

REMEMBER THE CHILDREN BORN UNTO WAR? ONCE THEIR INNOCENCE LOST, JUST TROPHIES OF WAR.

OFT' BAPTIZED IN GORE, WHEN MADNESS REIGNED, STILL, WE CRIED OUT FOR MORE, WHILE BEARING THE PAIN.

THEY PINNED SOME MEDALS ON OUR CHESTS, WITH A CARELESS NOD, NO MORE, NO LESS.

ALONE WE STOOD, APART FROM THE REST, WERE WE THE WORST, OR WERE WE THE BEST?

WAIT! DO YOU HEAR THE JUNGLE, THE ROCKETS, THE RAIN, REMEMBER DEATHS EVIL MASK, ETCHED WITH PAIN?

SPEAK TO ME SOFTLY, AND DO NOT STARE, AND SAVE YOUR JUDGEMENT, YOUR PITY, YOUR PRAYER.

FOR EVERY TIME MAN TRIES TO RISE, ABOVE EVIL'S STRONG AND BINDING TIES

ANOTHER PATRIOT WILL GO, AND LEAD THE FIGHT, TO SPREAD THE HOLY GLOW, OF FREEDOMS LIGHT.

HE'LL SEND FREEDOMS EAGLE, SOARING HIGH, 'CROSS THE HALLOWED BREADTH, OF HEAVEN'S SKIES.

AND HERE AT HOME, WE'LL SIT AND WAIT, AS AMERICAN PATRIOTS MEET THEIR FATE.

SOME WILL LIVE, AND SOME WILL DIE, AS FREEDOM'S EAGLE, MOURNS AND CRIES.

BUT THOSE WHO SHED THEIR BLOOD AND TEARS, WILL EARN THEIR PLACE ON HEAVEN'S TIERS.

FROM OPPRESSION'S CRIES, THESE MEN WON'T HIDE, BUT FACE EACH CHALLENGE, FILLED WITH PRIDE.

WHO ARE THESE PATRIOTS? THEIR NAMES I MEAN. THE EAGLE'S GUARDIANS ARE CALLED "MARINES".


So much for my views. A lot of people have the misguided impression that the military is a political organization and that anyone who joins must align themselves with the current Political administration. The reality is that the military exists well beyond each administration. While it might appear that the military is the strong arm of the political right, the military being recruited one day might serve the majority of their contracts under a completely new administration and a new Congress.

Like any other organization, the military must continue to recruit new members to remain viable. Nobody can beat plowshares back into swords on a moment's notice, so we must continue the upkeep of our military. If you are a person who thinks the United States should not have a standing military force, there isn't much I can do to convince you otherwise, you'll never understand why I joined. while I may envy your Pollyanna optimism, I can lament your myopic view of the reality of evil. If you recognize that the military plays an important role in the security, safety and preservation of our way of life, then I believe that you can also understand that we all will be doing ourselves a great disservice if we discourage talented men and women from committing themselves to military service. If men and women must serve in the defense of this country, we should support and encourage our best and brightest when they accept that mantle of responsibility.

Would you turn our government in Washington D.C. over to the most incompetent of our citizens?
Some times I do wonder if that is a rhetorical question, don't you? I am sure we have turned the media over to the incompetent long, long ago.

I believe we are likely the most technologically advanced and militarily-capable nation on the planet. The United States has the power to do great things, but we also have the power to perform acts of great devastation. This is because God has endowed every man with the same potential to perform the most profound acts of good or to choose to do the most evil and vile acts you can imagine. This is the paradigm of "Free Will." Yet nations are made up of the same human beings, possessing the same free will, all drawn from the same place, the human race. Therefore, every nation has the same potential for extreme good and extreme evil. The defining ingredient, however, is found in the application of reason to the actions and relationships those countries extend to each other and their own citizens.

I hope to see that power of those actions and relationships controlled and administered by people with rational minds, compassionate hearts and edifying spirits. I try and hold myself to that standard every day, though I'm not enough of a idealist to believe that my service will alter the course of history. I can, however, do my part to obligate myself and those under my command to an exemplary standard of conduct. What more can one person really do?

What irritates me the most is that many who oppose the military way of life fail to recognize that the key to making things better is to fix them from the inside. The military is a very conservative entity and can be likened to an elephant which cannot change direction on a dime. In the military society change requires a concerted and intentional effort which must be applied from the inside.
The greatest freedom we have as citizens of this country is the freedom to become involved in its political and social process. If you want to enact change, then start changing things. The framework is in place;it has been since 1776, and the tools are at our disposal, but we must be willing to step up and participate. Standing around griping only validates the old adage, "any fool and criticize and most fools do."

Edmund Burke sounded the warning long ago when he wrote these famous words, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

I am not claiming that everyone can or should join the military, but those of us who can and those of us that care enough about this great country (I know we are not perfect, but having seen a lot of other countries close up, we are way ahead of the guy in second place) have the responsibility to accept the baton of reason from the hands of the preceding generation and carry our domestic and foreign dreams into the future.

No one hates war more than a person who has "faced the elephant" and survived, unless it is a person who has commanded men and women during war. All of us who have met those requirements will agree with the bumper sticker that reads, "War Is Not The Answer." However, many folks screaming that slogan do not even know what the question they are trying to answer is. Should that question be "How did we stop fascism, slavery, communism and genocide?" Or How did we come into existence? then war is - sadly and most definitely - an ugly answer to an ugly question. I don't like it any more than I like the fact that amputation can be a necessary but ugly answer to saving a human life.

As we stand on the brink of prolonged global conflict, armed only with blind ideologies. The question of Whether this escalates into a broad-based conflict like World War II or evolves into a diplomatic battle of ideas and rhetoric like the Cold War remains to be seen. Nevertheless, that outcome will be dictated by the caliber and character of the men and women to whom we entrust the keys to the American arsenal as well as the seats of power in Washington D.C. Those of us who feel like we can shoulder the mantle of leadership and the responsibility of walking into the valley of the shadow of death, owe it to future generations to leave our world a little better than it was
when we came into it.

As a human being, you have the right to believe anything you choose. As an American, you are guaranteed the right to express those views and to try and convince others to agree with you. In fact we in the military and the law enforcement professions risk our lives to guarantee you that right and all we ask is that you allow us to have and express our views just as loudly and openly as you express yours. Just because we differ in our views, what makes your opinion the dominant one?

You have the right to view our law enforcement officers and military personnel as misguided or righteous, as noble or ignoble. You can dismiss those that join the military as war mongers, bloodthirsty, naive, ignorant, oppressed or simply downright stupid. But you cannot dismiss the fact
that at this moment, there are over 1,000,000 American men and women who have volunteered to leave their homes to defend yours, to endure physical burdens to lighten yours, and to use their bodies to shield you from those that would do you harm, all so that you might continue to enjoy your lives and liberties in peace.

Well I guess that is why I enlisted in the Marines,a long, long time ago. If I were young enough today I would do it all over again.

In closing I guess that is also why I entered law enforcement when I left active military duty. I am doing what I am doing now as a chaplain for a lot of the same reasons. I believe that every man must rise to the challenges set before him and never fail to fight the good fight or as The apostle Paul Put it, "Run the good race". I have witnessed as much personal devastation here at home as I have witnessed in combat on foreign shores. I have also been privileged to witness as many or more acts of random kindness on foreign shores as I have seen here at home.

God bless all his centurions wherever they are and whatever color their uniforms are. Article Manager module by by George! Software.




Reddit!Del.icio.us!Google!Live!Facebook!Technorati!StumbleUpon!Yahoo!Free social bookmarking plugins and extensions for Joomla! websites!
 
< Prev   Next >

Upcoming Events