Constitutionally Right

The only way to predict the future is to create it.

Location: Yardley, PA (Bucks County), United States

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Making of a Marine - Philly Burbs

I usually feel a bit awkward when thanked for my military service since I gained a lot more from my 4+ years as a full-time Marine than I contributed. I always had very high goals and a lot of motivation, but just didn’t have the discipline and direction to make much of anything happen. The missing elements were provided courtesy of the United States Marine Corps which I’d like to explain so that others might benefit.
I would go to great lengths to get to the starting line only to fall flat on the first hurdle. The best example of this was making the cut for my college wrestling team probably as an experiment to see what can be made from raw untested desire to succeed. Being surrounded by some serious examples of accomplishment for a few years was my introduction to what it takes, but I eventually discovered that wishful thinking is not good enough. The first step, as explained by one of the finest coaches of all time, is often the most difficult which is being honest with the most important person to be honest with - yourself.
The next challenge was committing to the Marines upon graduation. There was some sort of unexplained desire to serve. My sense was that the greatest challenge and most intensive military experience would come from the Marine Corps.
The initial training ended up having a 40% graduation rate. My class consisted of Ivy League superstars, Olympic level athletes, prior Enlisted Marines who put themselves through college in their spare time and so on. There I was yet again surrounded by greatness, but I wasn’t one of them. The one element that all 40% of us shared was a total commitment to graduation before arriving and the entire training was founded on a thorough internalization of a 100% no-compromise version of integrity.
I met my 2 mentors at Camp Pendleton after over a year of training. The first immediately took me under his wing upon my arrival and berated me until I understood how competence and good humor are an extraordinary combination to lead young Marines with. Some of you might have known Brian Teeple (a fellow Neshaminy Maple Point grad from Levittown). He was the model Marine Officer who didn’t have to ever tell anyone how good he was. His humble presence and positive attitude explained everything.
The second was Gunnery Sergeant Aviu who taught the finer points of Marine Corps leadership to those who observed. He was a massive Hawaiian with a thick accent and medals up to the top of his left shoulder. His record suggested a bit of an anti-authority complex since he seemed to have dropped a few ranks along the way, but further investigation revealed more of an anti-incompetence complex. I learned everything I needed to know from him and promoting him to Master Sergeant was probably my greatest achievement.
Leadership is what defines the Marine Corps. Helping others to do their very best is accomplished by:
- Setting the example
- Keeping your word at all times
- Having the courage to stand up for what’s right especially if you’re the only one doing it
- Doing what’s right especially when no one’s watching
- Being on time
- Getting the job done without being told
- Being friendly and respectful
- Treating EVERYONE equally
- Being enthusiastic and encouraging others to do what they do best
- Being neat and clean
- Sharing unpleasant tasks
- Knowing that you’re doing something wrong if everyone likes you
- Putting the needs of others before your own
- Privately correcting others when they’re wrong
- Helping others when they’re in trouble
- Weighing the facts with good judgment
Two organizations that allow those who haven’t served to do so and for those who have served to continue to do so are The Travis Manion Foundation and the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation. They can be found at and (and briefly explained on my own blog at ). True leadership transcends the trivial into the realm of what’s really important to us all which is embodied with pure clarity by these organizations and others like them.
I can say with confidence that integrity is much less expensive than the cost of not having any and is certainly a path where you’ll never get lost. I’ve also observed that almost everyone can be afraid of the dark, but it’s a fear of the light that keeps many from reaching their fullest potential. And, without a doubt, the more you appreciate what you have the more you will have to appreciate.
But I think that the most important thing is that it’s our differences that make us what we are as a nation. Our differences are our strength best said by “One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” And anyone who doesn’t like it can tell it to the Marines.


Thursday, June 02, 2011

A Diamond In The Rough - Philly Burbs "Politically Correct" Blog

I was like a deer-in-the-headlights upon hearing President Obama forcefully request that Israel return their borders to the boundaries of 1967. My first thought was of those lost securing the one outpost of peace in a very hostile Middle East. It’s as if our President was purposefully expressing some sort of contempt for Prime Minister Netanyahu a week before his visit to the United States.
My second thought was that these boundaries were barely defensible in 1967. The profound demographic changes since then make them even less so now.
Shouldn’t President Obama concentrate on running our nation before telling others how to run theirs? Israel has been a Jewish land for over 4,000 years with Jerusalem arguably the world capital of human rights. Jews have embraced the notion that all people are created equal for thousands of years even when surrounded by slave owning empires. The last Jews of ancient Israel even committed suicide at the top of Masada to avoid living a life void of peace, justice and equality among all. And Jerusalem remains today a united city founded on these values where even Israeli Arabs refuse to give up their freedoms and economic privileges as citizens of Israel.
Is it possible that our President is simply pandering to the bigotry of anti-semitism in a quest for some sort of naive approval? Is he throwing Israel under the bus in an attempt to establish improved relationships with the Muslim world while ignoring the Palestinian goal of destroying Israel? Peace cannot be imposed, but must be negotiated; and not with a government backed by terror organizations.
Since its founding in 1948 all 6 Israeli Prime Ministers have called for a Palestinian State, but Palestinian leaders are simply unwilling to end the war to destroy Israel. They’d rather teach their children to hate and name town squares after suicide bombers. They are not serious about peace and will not accept a Jewish State under any circumstances.
Maybe it’s because the only free Arabs in the Middle East are those in Israel. It sets a very bad precedent for tyrannical dictators whose people desire the same rights that exist in Israel. Israel as a world leader in technology, too, doesn’t hurt the argument for peace, freedom and democracy. I don’t know; maybe it’s a good thing that we’re hated by the most vicious people on the planet. It might just be all one needs to know about us although I can’t help to wonder if radical Islam threatens Islam more than anything else.
Obviously it’s still fashionable to blame ones’ problems on the Jews in Israel and elsewhere; however, we still have a President trying to suggest boundaries that will likely have the unintended consequences of advancing something other than peace.
Personally, I’d much rather confront an honest enemy than a dishonest friend. I’m still confused over President Obama’s request, but am encouraged that seasoned leaders have presented another perspective. Scapegoats like Israel will always serve their “purpose” for governments that remain corrupt and incompetent, but it is only a democratic Israel that will protect the rights of all people (and those who cherish freedom must always guard it).
The silence can sometimes be deafening (especially among many American Jews who have a blind allegiance to Democrats), but allows the rest of us to hear “Never Again” more clearly. Through it all Israel remains a diamond-among-the-rough sparkling bright from the light of freedom.