We will all benefit if we contribute to something bigger than ourselves
To the editor:
Recently, you ran a letter entitled “The end of patriotism, fall of a nation.” Not wanting our nation to fall, I would offer an idea to help move our nation toward rekindling patriotism. It starts by recounting and building on something said by a young man who is the quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs, Patrick Mahomes. What he said shows that he recognizes, values, and still applies something he learned as a youngster in the locker room. Of course, not everyone has experiences in a locker room, so there needs to be a place for others to learn what he talks about.
Here is what he said. “All I can think about is how I grew up in a locker room where people from every race, every background and every community came together and became brothers to accomplish a single goal.” He continued, saying “I hope that our country can learn from the injustices that we have witnessed to become more like the locker room where everyone is accepted. We all need to treat each other like brothers and sisters, and become something better.” In this statement, he recognizes why we lost a valuable societal tool when we did away with a military service requirement, commonly thought of as the “draft” and moved to an All Volunteer Force.
Since 1973, without programs in which most all young people can and do participate, a vast majority seem not to have learned what it means to have “skin in the game.” Basic military training provided those “locker room” type experiences and the trainees learned along side young men from every race, every background and every community, where everyone was accepted, and where they came together and became brothers to accomplish a single goal, while treating each other like brothers and sisters, and becoming something better.
Today, a National Public Service Program in which all young men and women reaching 18 years of age would register, complete a basic training course, and serve our nation in some way, could provide such training and subsequent service could be a win-win in many respects, economically and socially, and could provide another avenue to positively and actively address many of the issues we still face today.
Learning values not only comes from our parents and families, but also from our teachers in schools and churches, and mentors in programs in which we participate. And, preparation for entering a National Public Service Program could begin with participation in JROTC programs in schools across the country. The mission of JROTC is to motivate young people to be better citizens. According to Title 10, Section 2031 of the U.S. Code, “the purpose of Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps is to instill in students the value of citizenship, service to the United States, personal responsibility and a sense of accomplishment.”
There are already many existing service program options to consider, however, a key to the success of such a program would include a requirement to attend a basic training course, either basic military training or a conceptually similar training course to instill in the value of citizenship, service to the United States, personal responsibility and a sense of accomplishment.
A subsequent period of service could be in any element of the military, such as the National Guard, the Reserve, or Active Duty in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, including the Civil Air Patrol, Coast Guard, or the new Space Force; could be in any element of Homeland Security, the US Public Health Service, or programs within the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), such as Americorps and FEMAcorps; could be in US international efforts such as the Peace Corps, AmeriCares, and Charity: Water; could be in national, state and local police, fire, and emergency services departments; or could be in non profit organizations found in the Directory of Charities and nonprofit organizations, providing major national education and human services, like feeding the hungry, providing job training, housing the homeless, helping people prepare for and recover from disasters, and offering programs to help youth mature into adults who contribute to society. Programs such as Habitat for Humanity, American National Red Cross, Salvation Army, Meals on Wheels, Teach for America, and Wounded Warrior Project.
Another perspective on this subject was conveyed in an article written in 2017 by Damon Linker, and entitled “How ending the draft corroded American politics.” Following is an extract — “Nothing builds social cohesion like a call for shared sacrifice, just as nothing inspires a breakdown in social cohesion like the perception that the sacrifice is borne by only a few while the vast majority takes it for granted.” Since 2001, only 0.45% of our population has served in the Global War on Terror, and of those whose primary responsibility is to ensure the defense of our nation (through overseeing and shaping policy, and for providing needed resources), less than 19% of our Members of Congress (House & Senate) have served in a military service.
If the current situation in OUR nation makes YOU believe we ALL need to “DO SOMETHING,” take a look at The Final Report of the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service, and remember that when we begin to rein in our individualism and learn to recognize once again the considerable personal and political rewards of contributing to something bigger than ourselves, we will all benefit.
Earl H. Morgan, Jr.