...is actually the text of a recent speech, given by Marine Corps Major General Mike Lehnert to a community group in the San Diego area. In a very profound (and often, very moving) address, General Lehnert contrasts his son's recent graduation from Stanford, to the sacrifices made by his fellow Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is their service and dedication to duty, he reminds us, that allows us to pursue the American dream.
As an example of their dedication, General Lehnert recounts Marine efforts to recover a captured sniper rifle, taken by insurgents when they ambushed and killed four members of a USMC sniper team two years ago. With the weapon still in use by terrorists, the Marines made it their goal to retrieve the weapon, and settle a score with the terrorists. A few weeks ago, the Marines made good on that vow; a Marine sniper killed two insurgents attempting to use the weapon against a a passing patrol, and recovered the rifle. Not surprisingly, General Lehnert sees striking parallels between this current crop of combat leaders and the generation that fought in WWII. Like the "greatest generation," Lehnert believes that members of today's armed services will become future Congressmen, CEOs, university presidents and civic leaders.
On a more distressing note, General Lehnert also observed that California-based Marines have faced significant quality-of-life issues at home, affecting their morale and their plans for the future. Many residents want the Marine base at Miramar closed, despite the military advantages the installation offers. Meanwhile, many of the Marines at Mirimar live in barracks that date back to World War II, and (making matters worse) many have found it more difficult to access off-duty or post-service educational opportunities. California is one of the few states that doesn't offer a veterans preference for former service members, making it more difficult for them to enter college and universities in the Golden State. To his credit, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is trying to educational system to veterans. A better question is why such obstacles were created in the first place.
Read the speech and be inspired. We are fortunate to have men like General Lehnert--and his Marines--wear the nation's uniform.
Hat tip: Powerline.
Addendum: Are the educational barriers cited by General Lehnert the result of bureaucratic indifference, or an effort by liberal academics (and university administrators) to discourage enrollment by current or former service members? Sadly, veterans have faced similar barriers in the past. When the GI Bill was first proposed, a number of prominent educators, including University of Chicago President Robert Hutchins and Harvard's James Conant, opposed it, fearing it would undermine cirricula, and in Hutchins's words, transform the nation's universities into a "hobo jungle." Hutchins was later forced to admit his mistake, after the WWII generation transformed the nation's universities, and with it, the nation as a whole. Sixty years later, the young men and women who fought in Fallujah and Ramidi deserve the same access to the classrooms of California's university system.