November 20, 2011

Stop What You Are Doing And Read These Two Things

In an essay on the alleged crimes at Penn State, Iraq War veteran Thomas L. Day does the best job of anyone summing up why I am so frustrated with the generation that precedes my own:

A leader must emerge from Happy Valley to tie our community together again, and it won’t come from our parents’ generation.


They have failed us, over and over and over again.


I speak not specifically of our parents -- I have two loving ones -- but of the public leaders our parents’ generation has produced. With the demise of my own community’s two most revered leaders, Sandusky and Joe Paterno, I have decided to continue to respect my elders, but to politely tell them, “Out of my way.”


They have had their time to lead. Time’s up. I’m tired of waiting for them to live up to obligations.


Think of the world our parents’ generation inherited. They inherited a country of boundless economic prosperity and the highest admiration overseas, produced by the hands of their mothers and fathers. They were safe. For most, they were endowed opportunities to succeed, to prosper, and build on their parents’ work.


For those of us in our 20s and early 30s, this is not the world we are inheriting.


We looked to Washington to lead us after September 11th. I remember telling my college roommates, in a spate of emotion, that I was thinking of enlisting in the military in the days after the attacks. I expected legions of us -- at the orders of our leader -- to do the same. But nobody asked us. Instead we were told to go shopping.

Read the whole thing. Then go read Mark Bowden's wonderful -- and wonderfully balanced -- take on the attack at Wanat. It includes this brilliant passage:

The lieutenant’s battle was over. His bravery had little impact on the course of the fight. He could not rescue the men on Topside, and those who survived would have done so anyway. As it is with all soldiers who die heroically in battle, his final act would define him emphatically, completely, and forever. In those loud and terrifying minutes he had chosen to leave a place of relative safety, braving intense fire, and had run and scrambled uphill toward the most perilous point of the fight. A man does such a thing out of loyalty so consuming that it entirely crowds out consideration of self. In essence, Jon Brostrom had cast off his own life the instant he started running uphill, and only fate would determine if it would be given back to him when the shooting stopped. He died in the heat of that effort, living fully his best idea of himself.

I have rarely read a better tribute to a fallen officer.