Friday, September 28, 2012

Measures of Manhood: A Next Memorial Day

Villa Philmonte, Cimarron, New Mexico.  ("Waite and Genevieve Phillips... beginning in 1925,  and every year thereafter... gave away half of everything that they earned."  Hmm. Why have we not had a Waite Phillips night?)

As a family, we've paused to honor some of the GREAT ONES lately hidden within the worn fibers of our national tapestry.  From Mighty GeoW. and Patrick Henry, to Chuck Colson and Teddy "T.R." Roosevelt, we've set aside time to revisit the singular ideas and doings of people who once made this nation great.  (Maximilian Kolbe and Beatrix Potter aren't exactly US, but they're great too, so, no less deserving of their celebratory moments.)

Next week should afford another chance to honor rare qualities; this time, those of extraordinary valor, bravery under fire & giving the ultimate sacrifice.

On October 3, 1993, Sergeant First Class Randall David Shughart and Master Sergeant Gary Ivan Gordon lost their lives defending a fallen Black Hawk and its dead and injured pilots in Mogadishu, Somalia.

These men deserve monuments on a grand scale. Since there aren't any yet, I hope to memorialize them here at home with solemnity and gratitude.

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One of the handful of proud moments I can recall as a parent was learning my son had digested Mark Bowden's account of Shughart & Gordon's heroism, reading Black Hawk Down - A Story of Modern War more than once, becoming the go-to guy on the matter.

Watching the Bowden inspired movie came soon after, easier to do once-upon-a-time when was allowed to remove foul language from customer purchases. Unfortunately, my F-word tolerance has spiked incredibly (watching the horrors of military life never shocked me much),  so I've nearly forgotten how I was once a cussing dilettante, damn you, Tenth Circuit.

The take-away from this Ridley Scott epic is to be shocked by the heaping measures of manhood depicted, and the almost unheard of civilian concept of giving up one's life for a selfless cause.

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So, on October 3, how do we stop to honor such outsized heroism? 

In Lincoln, NE, Shugart's birthplace, maybe they'll hold a moment of silence. In Lincoln, ME, Gordon's birthplace, maybe they'll lower a flag?

In Long Beach, CA, maybe we'll read aloud the official Citations delivered at their Medal of Honor ceremonies; stop to ponder or pray for the ongoing needs of military leaders, elected leaders, policy wonks and both presidential candidates; and generally stand in awe. 

I know. We should visit a VA hospital.

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Where do you find men like Shughart and Gordon? I could never be that honorable.  Yet, for some reason, I expect, despite my own fears and failures, that it's SOMEBODY'S job to inculcate heroism in the next generation.  How do you do that?

That's her on the left. 
My heart shudders for the countless parents & teachers who work hard (or, not...) everyday forming the knowledge base and consciences of kids.

Without something huge reclaiming every school and family, can this nation even expect selfless leadership?

Sonny's CSULB

To Sergeants Shughart and Gordon, we salute you. We honor your memory and your timeless example of obedience to your calling. We remain in awe of your service above and BEYOND the mere call of duty.  

To your families, we thank you with inexpressible esteem and gratitude for surrendering your loved ones for the good of the rest of us. 

To all who were killed or injured that day, we thank you with an inexpressible affection, awed respect, and hallowed remembrance.

And to Mark Bowdin, hats off. What a feat.

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[edit]Wiki Footnote

USNS Shughart

U.S. Navy Large, Medium-speed, Roll-on/Roll-off Ship Shughart (T-AKR 295)


Herbert Shughart, Randall Shughart's father, attended the Medal of Honor presentation ceremony at the White House, where he refused to shake hands with President Bill Clinton.[10] 
He then proceeded to openly criticize the president, saying, "You are not fit to be president of the United States. The blame for my son's death rests with the White House and with you. You are not fit to command."[11]
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((SHHhh...) Way to go, man.)

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