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.
I left the conference at Ft. Bragg early on Wednesday evening in an attempt to make it back to Tampa before Hurricane Nicole shut down travel. What should have been a direct 2-hour flight became a travel odyssey. I spent the next 48 hours dealing with canceled flights, multiple delays, and being rerouted at every airport. It felt like “Planes, Trains & Automobiles” and was reminiscent of the challenges coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan over a decade of hundreds of trips back & forth to and from the sandbox. But the travel comparisons ended at canceled flights…
I didn’t have to sleep on the ground at Baghdad International Airport (BIAP) for two nights in a row waiting for a Space-A flight home. I wasn’t stuck in a “gen pop” tent where finding an open, dust-covered mattress was next to impossible among the snoring occupants. Their kit littered the floor as you tip-toed blind through the minefield in the darkness, trying not to wake anyone else. The bathroom wasn’t a port-a-potty more than three blocks away or a communal trailer shower that only had hot water in the 120-degree summers and was an ice-cold drip in winter. I didn’t have to scrounge for an MRE or drink a piss-warm Rip-It energy drink in the galley tent.
This time, I was able to find a hotel only minutes from the airport, spent a night in a comfortable bed, and was able to take a warm shower in the morning. The USOs in Raleigh, Charlotte, and Nashville provided a home-like atmosphere with coffee, drinks, food, and conversation with fellow vets and the USO volunteer staff.
In Nashville, I struck up a conversation with an elderly gentleman who happened to be a 1968 US Naval Academy grad who went to BUD/S in 1967 on the East Coast - the year I was born. He did a tour in Vietnam with Underwater Demolition Teams (UDT-21) and spent a career in the Navy reserves retiring as a Captain. He went to law school and later served as a Circuit Court judge before retiring for a second time. He returned home to the Tennessee family farm where he lives today.
I was only able to spend that extra hour in the Nashville USO because of a weather delay. It was a blessing in disguise. I’ve passed through USOs thousands of times over the past 30 years. There have always been volunteers, usually veterans themselves, like the UDT Navy Frogman, who continues to remind me of what it means to be a veteran. Fellow Americans who commit to a lifetime of service to this country and to others. Some wear the uniform for four years, and some serve forty. Many take on similar civilian careers, becoming police officers, firefighters, school teachers, nurses, doctors, lawyers, and business owners, where they tap into first responder & leadership skills honed in the military to excel.
Many, after two-lifetime careers, still feel the need to give back to others long after retirement, like Captain Royce Taylor USN (ret) still does to this day. I am proud of my veteran status and even more humbled to be a “son of UDT.” The UDT Navy Frogmen set the standard Navy SEALs strive to live up to today. Captain Taylor sets the standard Commander O’Shea will strive to emulate tomorrow.
Non sebi sed patriae, "Not for self but for country"
Dan O'Shea is a combat veteran with more than twenty five years of leadership and special operations experience built upon multiple Middle East and Africa tours spanning more than two decades. O'Shea, is a retired Navy SEAL Commander, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran.
On November 11, 1918 an armistice was signed between the Germans and the Allies, ending World War I.
We now call it 'Veterans Day' that honors all those who have worn the uniform.