On Christening and Commissioning: Essay for May 19, 2012

Spring is that time of year for transitions and my experience this weekend is turning out to be a very reflective one.

First stop is Newport, Rhode Island, for the commissioning ceremony for the son of a dear Navy shipmate of mine. Our children grew up together and we have watched yet another major life transition unfold before our eyes as he graduated from his Officer course and proceeded to his duty station in San Diego as a physician. The scene was a bit reminiscent of the movie, “Officer and a Gentleman” except this course was designed for the specialized corps of officers, in this case, the Medical Corps. They were Golf Company of Officer Development Course Class 12060. Ho-Hah!

We attended the festivities in uniform, probably feeling a bit more dapper than we actually looked when compared to the fresh, young faces of the 64 men and women who took their orders to begin or continue a naval career. It was a true passing of the torch. My shipmate, Donald, retired as a Navy Captain a number of years ago. Together, we could no longer complete the obstacle course without counting upon the Medical Corps to revive us.

This most important function, the defense of our country, has been transferred to yet another generation of Americans who willingly raised their collective hands to affirm the oath they made to uphold a commitment not to a personage, such as a king, but to a concept drafted by men who had experienced the yoke of servitude to potentates. They swore an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic.” They also swore that they took this oath “freely without mental reservation or purpose of evasion.”

If you do the math and add up all the members of our Armed Forces, active duty and reserve and National Guard, you will find that they represent less than 1% of Americans. I submit to you that the rest of America is the 99%. The Occupy movement is measuring the wrong thing. The Occupiers are measuring wealth as an indicator of achievement and success that they submit is not available to the majority. Wrong. If they wish to measure true achievement and success, selfless service, they should visit Naval Station Newport, not Wall Street. They are looking in the wrong places because they know no better. They do not understand now, nor will they ever understand, that service to our fellow man is how we achieve on this earth.

Our character is not measured by the amount of wealth we earn as much as it is by the amount of respect we earn from people whom we admire and are worthy of admiration.

The words of Chief Petty Officer Edgar Ruiz, the enlisted man most responsible for shaping a class of newly minted Ensigns, were quite memorable. “When I wake up in the morning I ask a simple question, ‘What can I do for the Navy today?’”

This group of young medical officers may not pick up arms against the enemies we fight but they will be the ones that reattach the pieces. They will be the ones that are charged to heal the scars of war: many obvious to the naked eye and many more darkly hid deep within the souls of the warrior. The Book of John instructs us: Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Next stop this weekend is Long Island, NY, where I will attend the christening of my grand niece, Kayla. She is just a baby and relies upon others for every protection: first from her Mother and Father; from family and friends; and then strangers. Some of those strangers who shall protect her have just passed through Golf Company, ODC Class 12060.

More than a century ago, Leo Tolstoy wrote,”Where love is, there God is.”

Taken together, our Armed Forces, including these Navy doctors, find themselves in a most perfect position to do God’s work here on earth. That makes them the 1 percent. There is no hourly wage for that.

Press on.

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