Yesterday I shared with y’all the history behind this October being the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing the 95 Theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg Germany. I tried to elaborate on how his singular act of protest began an incredible movement for individual liberty.
And it was here, in these United States of America, where that simple act by a German theologist ended up being manifested. Thomas Jefferson penned those words — the solidification of Luther’s ideal — that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, of these being life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. However, just as Luther and the Protestants had to fight, so did these United States of America, against the prevailing orthodoxy of divine rule of monarchs to advance the concept of the individual being supreme over the institution.
So, in this month, on October 13, 1775 what is now known as the “Global Force for Good” was established in Philadelphia, the United States Navy. I remember back a few years ago after speaking in Burlington, Vermont and having to continue to Syracuse for another speaking engagement, we ferried across Lake Champlain. It was there on October 11, 1776 our young navy fought a battle agains the British on that very lake. Of course, after the end of the Revolutionary War, our U.S. Navy was decommissioned. Then, in March 1794, the U.S. Navy was restored, forever, by the order to construct six frigates to be deployed against the Barbary Pirates of North Africa…our first expeditionary combat deployment, occurring during the tenure of President Thomas Jefferson.
Why do I share this with all of you? Because the tradition continues, and this evening I will have the highest honor to address the U.S. Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) Cadets of Joshua (Texas) High School. It’s their annual NJROTC Navy Birthday Ball. And this ol’ Soldier gets to be the one to speak to these young men and women.
I remember my days at Henry Grady High School in Atlanta where I was a cadet in the Army JROTC program, from 1976-1979. It was during my time there that we had our first military ball, and that tradition continues to this day at Grady High. What a true and distinct pleasure to be able to address what may be future Sailors or Marines, enlisted or officers…maybe future SEALS, Recon Marines, combat aviators or ship drivers. But also, these young men and women could end up being future civic leaders such as mayors, state or federal legislators or governors.
When visiting the Joshua High School NJROTC program website, I saw something somewhat perplexing. It stated, “we are not attempting to recruit Cadets into the military. Our main goal is to prepare young men and women to be productive members of society. Our motto is a cadet shall not lie, cheat, or steal, or tolerate those who do so.”
What is perplexing about this statement is the fact that they must caveat that their existence is to not be recruiting for our military. Now, I know some school administration bureaucrat mandated that to be there. I’m quite sure there’s no such statement for the athletics department stating they’re not training kids to be recruited by colleges and universities.
Why are we ashamed to say we’d have program such as JROTC available to our young people to offer them an opportunity to serve their nation? No, I don’t believe the program should exist for the explicit reason of recruitment, but I’d prefer we accentuate the positive.
I’m truly glad we have JROTC programs in our nation. They do exist to develop future leaders and create a sense of honor, courage, and commitment…something lacking in our society. Maybe if we had more NFL players who were members of a JROTC program, we wouldn’t be seeing them sitting, kneeling, or doing anything other than standing in reverence, hand over heart, for the playing of our national anthem.
It amazes me to think probably not one local news reporter will be there to cover the Joshua High School NJROTC Navy Birthday Ball. Who will write a story on what they will have seen and experienced? You can bet if these students were instead dressed in black with hoods and masks, they would be given a media platform and attention. If they were out destroying property and denying free speech of those with whom they disagreed, they would be praised. If they were walking down the street and chanting about wanting to see dead law enforcement officers, the news media would be there, interviewing them and speaking adoringly about their efforts.
Sadly, the media won’t be there to cover these young men and women, representative of the best America has to offer. These are “dreamers” who may one day raise their right hand to take the venerable oath to support and defend our Constitution. These are the dreamers who will follow the line of distinguished names such as John Paul Jones, Stephen Decatur, Farragut, Halsey, Nimitz, Presley O’Bannon, John Lejeune, Chesty Puller, Victor and Charles Krulak…and Chris Kyle. No, the media won’t pay them any attention, but these young men and women aren’t seeking any attention, they only seek to better themselves, and perhaps have the honor of serving our nation. This is what makes them special. This is what makes them the salt of America, not overgrown, spoiled multimillionaires who get paid to play a game.
The reason why America exists, and forever will, is because we’re the land of the free that continues to raise the next generation standing upon the ramparts of the home of the brave. These young men and women at the Joshua High School NJROTC program may never be known to us all…but their future contributions to this nation shall be everlasting. Maybe, just maybe, if you’re residing anywhere south of Ft. Worth, you may want to come out and see the future of Texas and America. You may want to see what the media doesn’t want to show: the fact that good ol’ American patriotism does indeed still exist, and it shall forever live on.
Happy Birthday to our U.S. Navy! God bless the young men and women standing in the gap of our Junior ROTC programs nationwide.
[Learn more about Allen West’s vision for this nation in his book Guardian of the Republic: An American Ronin’s Journey to Faith, Family and Freedom]