Saturday, April 9, 2016

Proud to Stand, American

Walking around the campus of University of Central Florida, it hits me how proud I am to have attended a school of hardasses. I saw a guy just now walking with some sort of preppy backpack, bottle of Perrier in his mesh pouch. Everything here is brand new, and it is very nice. I think it's great, but weak.

I remember where I went to school, and while we weren't distraught, we received nothing on a silver platter. The only safe space we had was our room, and even then, you might be pulled out for no reason for some midday training/discipline. Our hands weren't soft, but hard, from mandatory physical activities. Everybody engaged in competitive sports. You didn't have a sleep in option, but you wanted one.

Our skin wasn't pale from hiding indoors such that you might burn from a five minute walk before jumping back into the air conditioning. We didn't have effeminate men because even gay men were tough. Not the limp wristed types like Bradley Manning who tuck their junk between their legs before showing up to a party. And women were tougher than civilian men at liberal arts schools. Certainly, women had higher physical standards than those at civilian run "military" colleges. Weakness received ridicule, and strength warranted celebration.

Your feet were hard from marching and calloused from blisters due to running, and fighting was a class--everyone took it. The physical standards were tough for both men and women, and if you failed, your peers killed you for it. You got shamed, so you better perform.

After graduation, the Marine Corps was even harder, of course. We didn't worry about hairstyles under Kevlar helmets, and we didn't have tire size earrings hanging from our heads. Sometimes our feet bled, and injuries were common. You worked through your injuries though and swallowed the pain because starting over meant enduring the exact same grueling events a second time with no guarantee that the identical injury would not occur again. Quitting was not an option. You were committed.

Through four years at the Naval Academy and all my time in the Marine Corps, sometimes one only survived by putting each foot in front of the other, literally. I remember one march in the mountains of Bridgeport where our packs were easily over 65 lbs, not including weapons and equipment. It was uphill and seemed to last forever. As I pushed ahead, I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, watched my feet moving, and never gave in. You did what you had to do.

I walk the UCF campus today seeing hundreds of people oblivious to physical sacrifice. Sure, I'm judging. After all, maybe some have legitimately been there and done that. But I doubt it. I see weakness and entitlement.

It isn't just in schools either in that I see people in jobs and businesses alike where they don't appreciate personal responsibility or accountability. I see people of privilege who received what they have through family position and endowment, engaged in deals as a result of relationships built due to a life of civilian ease, networking, and simply because of what their parents did before them. People hold political positions who have accomplished little in life short of shaking hands and kissing asses. Spending time on their knees, they've won friendships resulting in power and influence, and now they return favors by directing business and contracts back to their benefactors.

Cronyism and weakness characterizes the bulk of society today, and apparently, Americans celebrate it. In the past we admired people like Davey Crockett, Lewis and Clark, Daniel Boone, and others who lived independently. Today, we worship athletes who coma in whorehouses, politicians who spend a lifetime in Congress, or "performers" who dance nakedly clothed in front of crowds while singing barely understandable lyrics.

Children today never grow up, consistently fed and coddled by disinterested parents. College campuses like UCF overflow with them, and sacrifice is a forgotten memory taught in history books, if required to take it. Civilians have little appreciation for veterans, and it shows in their elected politicians, the elite. As unfortunate as it is, it is the society that we created, nurtured, and encouraged to take root. We planted it. We watered it. We coddled it. We got what we asked to receive.

I only answer for myself and my family. I sacrificed. I know personal responsibility and accountability. I understand how initiative differentiates between excellence and mediocrity. I know truth, integrity, and what it means to keep your word, never breaking your promises.

I see in practice what we ridicule and discuss among real men of consequence. Our country is off the tracks, and the current, leading ideology is not one to get it back on the rails. Without hard accountability, real willingness to fail, and readily allowing people to suffer the consequences of their own inaction and errors, nothing will save our  union. We must refuse to coddle, lest everything in existence be coddled just the same. What then?

If we do not act, who will? If we do not do it now, when will we? If people refuse to listen, what can be done? If the end of our great country be on the way, let it come quickly such that time may not be wasted in the reconstruction of our dreams. Speaking for myself, I will stand. Who will stand with me?