Constitutionally Right

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

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

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ten Years of Conservative Activism in 700 Words or Less - PhillyBurbs.com

     I first became aware of politics a few weeks after 9/11 when I, like everyone else, observed several political leaders putting politics ahead of national security.  I found that to be counterintuitive to my view of human nature so I got involved in our local Republican Party seeking answers. 
     After 10+ years of high-intensity study I’ve concluded that the reason why some put politics first is because some, well, put politics first.  I used to consider politics and leadership synonymous, but now know better.  My instinct is for small government and free markets thereby making me, by definition, a Conservative.
     I found myself getting pretty worked up over the re-election of the current President when it occurred to me that I wasn’t being very Conservative by getting worked up over politics.  I was letting the inherently insidious nature of politics get the better of me until I awoke on Wednesday morning to a new day as a re-born Conservative.
     No longer would politics rule the day as I recommitted myself to unlimited success regardless of conditions.  As the positive vibes circulated about, a renewed sense of purpose shifted into gear.
     It’s clear that we’re a divided nation.  There are those who can be counted on when desperately needed and there’s the other half who’s more concerned with politics over reality.  A friend just sent me a picture of a rally where everyone was saluting Hitler except for one guy.  He was circled with a caption that read, “Be that guy.”. 
     The division, then, is founded in there not being enough of “those guys” currently in America anymore.  Decreasing numbers of people like that guy has remarkably predictable results.  Our failure, then, is in failing to define who we are as Americans.
     I often cringe when I think to my pre-Marine Corps days.  My friends tell me that I’m being overly harsh on myself and that I was a completely normal teenager.  Maybe, then, today’s “normal” is the problem.
     How did I overcome this handicap?  Looking back I’d say that I was pretty average, but with enormous goals.  There was something, though, that I was missing that was necessary for achievement.
     My extreme failure as a collegiate wrestler was the catalyst for overcoming my ailment.  I compared my performance with that of my world-class peers and concluded that the consistent theme of their success was character and integrity.  So there was my answer.  The next stop was Marine Corps Officer Candidate School.
     OCS was a whirlwind of entry into military life when the first eye-opener happened a few weeks into it.  One of my fellow Candidates was dropped for what I thought was a minor integrity violation.  Many of us were already well-versed in integrity before entering the Marines while others had to be taught its value.  Those that didn’t pick it up fast enough didn’t last long - 60% eventually went home.
     The next moment of awakening was a cold day on the Marine Corps Birthday of 1986.  Seemed like any other day until a ceremony ensued like none other.  The grounds seemed to come alive with those who came before us nodding in approval of what we were becoming.
     Serving our nation isn’t required to have this same sense of dedication.  A few thanked me on Veterans’ Day (a few days ago) for my service, but it was I thanking them for I gained more than I gave and am very grateful for the honor.  Hopefully I can keep giving back until I at least break even one day.
     The training continued in various forms for another year until one of my defining moments happened.  One of my Marines got into trouble and all I did in his Court Martial was focus on what he did correctly during his service.
     I remember the other Officers looking at me like I had two heads and then returning to my unit with everyone looking up from what they were doing and then getting right back to work.  Word travels fast, I guess.  I was just being honest, but had uncovered the number one leadership trait which is to go to bat for someone when they’re in trouble. 
     On his final day before being dishonorably discharged he said to me, “Sir, I did it and you were the first person who ever stood up for me in my entire life.”.
     It’s now time for us all to stand up to the best of our ability and available time and rededicate ourselves to being “that guy”.  To separate politics from reality and ensure that others don’t confuse freedom of speech for freedom from thought. 
     Thank you for hanging out with me and best wishes leading by example with the same quiet dignity and purpose as those of days past who are counting on us as much as those yet to come (where I believe our finest moments lay). 

    

 

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

What's Up With Running - PhillyBurbs.com

     In response to my running last Sunday’s Marine Corps Marathon while sick a friend emailed me one of his favorite quotes - “If you’re going to be dumb you had better be tough.”.  I sensed the pending trouble when jogging across the soccer field of my son’s game the day before and getting dizzy.  My wife’s a nurse and the smart one in the family.  She forcefully said, “You’re not going!”, but I was at least good enough to call her 4 hours later upon arriving in Washington just to say “hi”.
     I’m not a good runner, but am working hard to get there following the examples of some remarkably great runners at two local running clubs.  One said it takes 7 years for someone like me to get fast (which seems about right) so I should be good in about 3 years or so.  I never even liked running until called to duty by The Travis Manion Foundation to join their Marine Corps Marathon team a few years ago and haven’t looked back. 
     The Travis Manion Foundation is one of the finest organizations of its type that supports Veterans and families.  They can be found at www.travismanion.com and are locally based in Doylestown, PA (with worldwide reach). 
     The team dinner the night before is the most meaningful day of the year for me.  It’s where some of our Fallen Heroes are honored with their families present.  The strength and character of these families always stuns me as they speak of the joy of the lives of those lost rather than the tragedy of their passing with a dignity and grace that I’d be incapable of.
     One of the guests was an awesome artist named Phil Taylor who meets with families and then paints a portrait that captures the essence of how their loved one lived.  His website is located at www.americanfallensoldiers.com .
     He presented his latest work to the family of Marine Corps Major Doug Zembiec.  The list of accomplishments of Major Zembiec and examples of his character were endless culminating in his humble strength, sense of humor and always putting others first.  These traits are pretty common among our Heroes as they continue to lead by example now from above probably by God’s direct design.
     I couldn’t quite put my finger on why I now enjoy running so much until now.   Running is just pure honesty.  There’s no way to perform well unless properly prepared and doing as much right as possible.  Running’s just perfectly consistent with the theme of character and integrity.  Participating in a marathon with tens of thousands of people with the same challenge and goal is pretty motivating.  Being supported by thousands of Marines just adds to it.
     So I tried to ignore having been sick during the week and didn’t let the 26+ mile distance enter into my consciousness.  I still feel like today’s men and women in uniform do more in a minute than I did in that 5 hour and 30 minute run.  The first 2 miles were a little tough, but then I really jammed for the next 8.  The remaining 16 miles were a bit of a test as my muscles stopped working properly, but it was good training.
     My favorite part was when a female Marine saw my struggle during the 25th mile, jumped off the side of the course into my face and screamed, “You’re motivating me!!!” as I hobbled by.  I couldn’t help but laugh even though my body wasn’t.  She definitely did her duty for someone in desperate need.
     My take-home from this weekend and those like it from the past few years is that the core traits of leadership seem to be lost at times, but are alive and well to say the least and extremely well responded to by most.  Leaving the team dinner was like a task force of messengers delivering the goodness.
     We often question whether or not we should stand up for and fight for what’s right, but that’s the ultimate expression of leadership regardless of consequences.  Fortunately we have an extensive list of real leaders to pool from that when in doubt we can always ask, “What would they do?” and then do that.
     That’s why I run which I think is pretty smart.