I learned in the military a simple maxim about leadership — leaders lead by example. As you all know, I come from a family of military servicemen who served in combat for our country. Dad served in World War II, my older brother in Vietnam, and my nephew is currently serving in the U.S. Army. The senior member of our family comes from Mom’s side as my cousin is U.S. Air Force Major General (Ret) Ed Bolton. It is our family pride and legacy to have worn the uniform of our country serving in its defense.
So when I write about military matters and national security, it’s done from the perspective of one who’s been there, done that. This is why I have the utmost respect for Princess Diana’s two sons — Prince William and Prince Harry. I knew those fellas were over there in Helmand Province in Afghanistan serving their country.
And so it was in reading this story that I could fully understand the pride that must have been in this father’s heart. As reported by Truth Revolt, “Benjamin Netanyahu, like many parents before him, was by his youngest son’s side as he sent him to basic training and into the Israeli Defense Forces. Standing in Tel Aviv with his wife, Sara, and older son Yair, the proud family was there to support the young Avner Netanyahu as he was about to embark on a new chapter in his life. The Netanyahus, like any family which sees their family members go off to the military, were filled with pride and fear. “We are moved just like every mother and father who watch their son go off to the army. We are full of pride and naturally, worry. Everyone knows this, every home in Israel, and we are no different. I told Avner to take care of the state and to take care of himself,” the Prime Minister said.”
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu served in the elite Sayeret Matkal commando unit and he lost his brother, Yonatan, in the commando raid operation at Entebbe. And so it was that another generation of Netanyahu was off to serve his country and ensure its survival.
I found it interesting that in the 2012 presidential election, we had neither a sitting president nor Vice President nor candidates for the same office who had ever served in the U.S. military. And we seem to forget that the number one title of the president of the United States is Commander-in-Chief.
There was a time in America when the country first looked towards those who had served in uniform to be its civilian elected leaders. As a matter of fact, some 40 to 45 years ago, almost 70 percent of the members on Capitol Hill had served in the U.S. military.
What has happened in America? Yes, we do thank our men and women in uniform and there are yellow ribbons and kind gestures. But do we truly respect and honor military service in America — are these the type of men and women we want to lead our nation?
There are folks I meet who believe it should be a prerequisite for a candidate for president to have served in the military — I don’t believe we need to amend the Constitution to make such a requirement.
However, there is something to be said about not having “discovery learning” in the nation’s highest office involving its most important responsibility. Yes, I do believe someone who has been in combat understands the decisions that must be made in deploying Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen into harm’s way.
I do believe someone who has been on the receiving end of an AK-47 and has felt that funny feeling in the gut will make sound strategic policy decisions when it comes to our national security.
I believe someone who has worn those boots doesn’t reduce our men and women to some disconnected terminology of “boots on the ground” — these are our fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers, and sisters — a living breathing person, not some inanimate object.
You can believe that for Prime Minister Netanyahu, the protection of his country is personal and the support of his military is as well. He said, “I wish success to all the soldiers who are being inducted today and to all the parents who are feeling the way we do — calm down, it will be okay.”
Those words have power, credibility, and heartfelt sentiment because the one speaking them has indeed “been there, done that, and has the t-shirt.” Netanyahu can talk the talk because he has truly “walked the walk” — and that means he can look all other Israeli parents in the eye and truly know their hurt when they lose their son or daughter defending Israel.
I would hope that here in America we look at this example of leadership and expect — demand — more from those who seek to ascend to positions of leadership here in America. Netanyahu has had skin in the game — and that is the legacy of service, sacrifice, and commitment in his family.
Airborne and Godspeed, young Avner!