Words matter. One of the historical words that has always mattered in the political world was ‘Reconciliation’. According to Webster, an act of reconciling occurs when former enemies agree to an amicable truce. But there are a couple of other words in that definition that need to be unpacked. The words “former” and “amicable” and “truce” need some additional clarification. ‘Former’ generally means traditional and is generally regarded as a foreign enemy such as another nation seeking to disrupt our democracy and our American way of life. There are many nations on this planet that do not enjoy our freedoms and our liberties. But those qualities are precious enough that there was a time when we could recruit and mobilize our youth to fight and die to sustain that vision of our forefathers. 

We’ve been well prepared and well invested to defend against foreign enemies but what if it’s not a foreign invader? Our forefathers warned us about that other enemy, the domestic one. 

Ronald Reagan warned us; “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on to them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where our men and women were free.”

I am now in the sunset of my years and I am preparing my speech for my children and grandchildren. The domestic enemy has infiltrated our Democracy and it is well on its way to changing the freedoms and our liberties that they should be inheriting from us. 

So, lets take reconciliation down to a current events level: Biden's State of the Union speech. 

How do we reconcile the vast expanse from the message delivered by Biden and the world we are in the process of leaving behind?

We seem to have reconciled our differences with foreign enemies as evidenced by the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, the tolerance of Chinese balloons over our sovereign territory, the apparent ignorance of the proliferation of Iranian drone warfare. Depleting our weapon stockpile in the proxy war with Ukraine while simultaneously depleting our strategic petroleum reserve  (critical to any logistics support in the event we have to actually fight) implies our foreign enemies are not a priority. Reconciled? To ensure we can’t recruit, equip and train the next generation of freedom fighters, we are now focused on race-based conflict in our public-school systems and universities. The resultant lowering of standards to meet recruiting goals in our military and police forces is the obvious answer. However, it is creating severe dysfunctionality in both. 

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Consider the recent Memphis issue. It is a living example of the intersection of the ‘defund the police’, ‘lower standards to make the police look like the community’ and the 'fatherless family’ dynamic that has incentivized the poor black element of our society to have single mother families. The five black cops that will likely now spend the rest of their lives in jail, for a fleeting moment, were the lucky ones. They were able to escape the inner city and get a job on the police force that was forced to lower its standards, nearly eliminate all training regimens, and allow the group to act with the gang mentality they were escaping, but this time, wearing a badge. It is a case study on the black-on-black pandemic that is crippling many of our big cities which is conveniently avoided when the race-baiters can only perpetuate their cottage industry if it can be portrayed as a white on black problem.

Back to the State of our Union- we should all be very concerned that we have a mutual understanding of that State. It should be measured, somehow, on the health of our Democracy, which has always been the metric that has separated the United States from the rest of the world.

Let’s list a few concerns by age of our population:

Public Schools: The source of recruiting for our military and the relative ranking of the product of our schools measured against the school systems of our global competitors. How are we doing? Not well. Consider the corrosive influx of Wokeness and its basis- Critical Race Theory, Transgenderism, revisionist history. Thankfully, the pandemic allowed parents to see what their children were being taught and a vocal rejection began. Division used to be a math term, but it is now a ideology term. 

Teenage (and adult) years: Open borders have opened a flood of Fentanyl which has created an epidemic affecting multiple generations of our young people, even school children. The complete disregard for the influx of millions of refugees and the impact on our society, especially the border states, is profound. The open cartel operations and the influx of deadly drugs is a scourge on our Democratic principles. 

Adults: The complete abandonment of energy independence, the ignorance of the reality of our tax system (Tax the rich?), the unbridaled, wasteful spending and the associated misuse of hard earned tax dollars (under very misleading labels) are reality today.  The accompanying inflation effects on the middle and lower segments of our society seem conveniently ignored. Our society has lost its moral compass. Only witness the recent Grammies to see the depravity on prime time. 

Harkening back to our childhoods, schools issue report cards ….so how do we initiate a report card for our leaders who seem to act like unaware and uninformed children? You decide. 

How do we fight a domestic cultural war we never wanted and never thought we would fight? How could a strong Democracy allow such a war to start? You decide.

Once you decide, you have two choices. You can act or you can watch. The first might make a difference, the second will not. You decide. 

Young people have a voice today. Unfortunately, their opinion has been radically influenced by the teachers that infuse in them their thinking. Whether you call it critical thinking or indoctrination is up to you. Role models in the formative years used to be the charter of parents. At some point, that moral obligation was transferred to “teachers” as two parent earners became responsible for breakfast and dinner but the interim time was “fully trusted to the teachers”.  Trust but verify was a Reagan priority but lost in recent years.

The pandemic influenced a sharp reality check when parents were suddenly able to see what children were actually being taught. Challenges to school boards, once thought out of bounds, has become a ritual. The deep-rooted move to poisoning the minds of our next generation was well underway and it has become the evil we have been warned about for generations-our democracy is never more than one generation away and its only threat is from within.  

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But how do our children even get a vote, after all, by law they don’t get a vote, and our democracy is ruled by adults, not children. Unfortunately, those adults are, in many cases, geriatric and should have been relieved of their legislative powers, years ago. Once cognitive acuity has been eroded, it seems decision making capacity may be influenced much more by agendas that are not aligned with our basic Constitution. Policy implications suddenly support a “New America” that embraces many of the ideals that have been foreign to anything our Constitution or current generation has embraced. 

Many have defended, and sacrificed much, for the flag that defines us. But many have not. Those have enjoyed the freedoms that were assured by the former will never be truly grateful, not in today’s environment. How quickly they forget or, how quickly they never knew because history isn’t part of our educational process anymore. 

The reality of the new movement to redefine our history, redefine our Constitution and even redefine our gender, is symptomatic of the evil element that permeates our society. Loss of our religious moral compasses, fundamental to the founding father’s vision of our Democratic Republic, is slowly taking root. 

So, as this seed germinates in the next generation, what do we do? The current administration is reinforcing this cancer growing among us. Policies reinforcing divisive fractures within our generation are eroding not just our society but our military culture. Military readiness is suffering from an abject rejection of the Woke scripture from both the recruiting pool and from the highly trained forces objecting from compromising dictum. 

The fight is relentless. The next generation is following the age-old mantra- if you are gaslighted day after day with falsehoods, you can eventually conclude that they are true. The reality is that the truth, given a chance and the light of day, will pull the pendulum back to some sense of reality. 

The fight must be on two fronts: stop the insanity in our school systems, including our Universities and Service Academies. Secondarily, stop the woke agenda policy flowdown that is driving weak recruiting, relaxation of standards and rejection of patriotic defense of our nation. 

So, what next? 

Education is generally a strength of the United States. It’s time to go back to the roots of education and teach the basics. From grade school through university. Stop the insanity of force feeding the Woke agenda. The nation is ripe with recent educational statistics that we should not be proud of. Consider the recent expose that truly stellar students, in some cases, are not being recognized because “it isn’t fair to the students that have not excelled”. Time to go back to a merit based, color blind system, not an equity based, feelings hurt system if we really want to get the best of our society. 

More importantly, it’s time to get our military back to the premier institution needed to defend this nation. Time, resources, and our senior leadership needs to be redirected to the important ingredients of developing our next generation of warriors. Stop the insanity of treating our military like a Petrie dish of social experimentalism. That is not what our founding fathers, our Constitution or any patriots that sacrificed for the freedoms we all enjoy ever envisioned. 

Are we ready for the next confrontation?  Wake up America

Veterans Day is a tribute to perhaps the most patriotic element of our Democratic Republic. It is also a time for reflection on the state of our nation today. Is this country worth fighting for? Those that have fought for it firmly believe it is.

Our American ethos often wanders through social changes and experimentation, through teachings and leanings that some agree with and some don’t. Somehow, our process has always brought the wanderings back to some sense of normalcy when it introduces the potential for the real-world loss of the principles of our Constitution.No other nation allows excursions like we do and no other nation has a self-correcting mechanism like ours. But we are on the precipice of losing that balancing factor. While our military may have historically been relatively immune from those vagaries of social experimentation that is no longer the case. Our current national policies, germinated during the forced feeding of racist agendas, have grown as a virus in our legacy patriotic DNA. Indoctrinating next generation leaders with a sense of hatred for the nation and divisive, victim- suppressor based ideology has reduced the pool of future leader candidates. It has had a real effect on the basic principles of pride and unity. Is it any wonder recruiting is facing alarming challenges?

The Turks originated a famous saying that “the Fish stinks from the head down”. In translation, it means that “if the servant is disorderly, it is because the master is so”. So, why should you be concerned about Supreme Court decisions? Why should you be worried about the erosion of ethics and integrity in our school systems? Why should election security be challenged? Because all of those issues and more will shape the future of our leadership core. It often seems like our patriotic veteran warriors may be the only ones that care. Why is that?

As Jim Webb, former Secretary of the Navy, said, wars are led by warriors but fought by civilians. If the warrior leadership element is so critical, where do we find or develop them?  

Our military leadership accession paths have two alternatives: the Service Academies or the Reserve Officer Training Corp (ROTC) path. Both have been influenced by curricula supported by the woke agenda. We are the land of the free because we (used to be) the home of the brave. But many of our highly trained military communities are being discharged due to many of the same policies. Weak recruiting realities imply relaxation of standards; excising trained forces implies a short path to a hollow force. All at a time of increasing global danger and complexity where leadership is the critical ingredient to survival of our nation as we know it today.

The last bastion that should be endorsing the woke agenda is the military and the Service Academies.  The guiding principles of those who have gone before must still be a strong voice in this decision. They have real life experiences which most of our nation today do not recognize or share. 

When you thank your veterans, thank them for continuing the good fight.

Mr. Burbage is a Naval Academy graduate, former Navy Test pilot and industry leader. He is working with a group of like minded individuals concerned with the ongoing movement to fundamentally change the focus of our military and specifically our Service Academies.

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