De Oppresso Liber
This is the motto of the Green Berets…. besides being a call to arms it also demands philosophical reflection.
Last week we had the honor of hosting a small group of retired heroes. Green Berets from the Vietnam era.
These brave men did things many of us would never dream of doing. Their courage was unmatched, and their athleticism and wits brought them back home to us.
It was fitting that these aging warriors spent sometime with us right behind memorial day.
They are an interesting bunch. When we think of our returning warriors coming home… especially our special forces guys we have a stereotypical image.
Brawny men.. (usually with dynamic beards).. some heavily tattooed, but all with a presence… a swagger.
Also with an appetite to train. These giants know the value of training. They survived because of their training…. and any opportunity to expand their knowledge base is accepted whole heartedly.
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This apparently is something that never goes away.
These older masters were not the strapping warriors of their youth. They were still in good shape, but age has creeped upon them.
Well.. at least in the physical sense.
Mentally, they are as sharp as ever.
They also have the same hunger to train now as they did back in the 1970’s.
Working with them on marksmanship was interesting.
They would listen to us discuss the five count presentation and would dutifully follow along. They would hold their pistols (weapons systems that they freely admitted they had little experience with) in a tentative way.
Until they had their sights on target.
Then the extraneous marble would crumble away reveling the statuesque warrior in all his magnificent glory.
Nothing trumps mindset.
These men were once again entrusted with a weapon, and orders to put lead on a particular target.
They did so efficiently, aggressively, and professionally.
Fifty years ago President Kennedy admonished us to “ask what we could do for our country”… These men didn’t ask… they told us to sit down and shut up… they have the situation under control.
That is the type of men they were, and continue to be.
We juxtapose this with subsequent generations that have benefited from their sacrifice and the sacrifices of their brothers and sisters… many of which gave it all on the battle field.
While we see the thirty something standing in line at Starbucks… carefully cultivated three day growth pressing against his cell phone and telling his unseen conversationalist how cutthroat his office is.
Or the “Chairborne Rangers” posting on internet forums their “expert” opinions of “shooting to wound”, appropriate tactical responses, or the value in… well… values.
Or the young androgynous males that slink into their skinny jeans, occasionally look up from their cell phones and push the long hair away from their eyes in order to get a better look at the chalk menu before them and decide such earth shaking conundrums as “should I order a kale salad, or a tofu stir fry?”
These “men”… contrasted to the heroes that came into Artemis… both from our most recent wars, as well as the wars of yesterday are a different breed.
And… occasionally…. ever so in frequently… a young man comes to us that makes us stop and take notice.
A young man such as our emeritus client Chandler who upon graduating from High School, set out to join the army. A young warrior that was determined to be a Ranger.
This young athlete and scholar… a bright kid with a “can do” attitude showed us that the warrior ethos does not necessarily skip generations…
It just needs to be cultivated.