On this Veterans' Day I give thanks for the many brave Americans who have served in the United States Armed Forces. My father, a former Air Force pilot and JAG, was among them. He died 18 years ago this week.
I give thanks also for those who still serve, including my son who recently returned from Iraq. I've experienced first hand the anxiety of mothers and fathers whose sons and daughters have been in harm's way. These parents too have sacrificed and deserve to be remembered and thanked.
For two years I taught writing at a boys' military academy. I also wrote the curriculum for the school's Character Education and Training for Leadership. Our school's President was Colonel James P. Carruthers, a fine leader who instilled moral courage in our cadets. On April 29, 2005 James P. Carruthers, fourteenth President of Millersburg Military Institute, spoke to the Corps of Cadets on Moral Courage. This is an excerpt from that speech.
"Gentleman, I have come to see that the hardest thing to do is start. If you want to be something, then start. The beauty of life is that we can start at any moment. Every moment, every day, is an opportunity to start becoming the person you can be. It is never too late to start!
You must start before you can discover your true qualities. Who you are and what you have to offer this world will never be apparent until you start showing what you are made of. You may think it is okay not to do your homework or not to take an inspection seriously. You may think, 'Everybody does it, so why not me?' What you need to understand is that no one will follow you as long as you have this attitude. People aren’t laughing with you, they are laughing at you. But you can start right now with a new attitude.
People follow those who have the moral courage to do the right thing. Courage will be yours in the future only if you start living a morally courageous life now. The toughest kind of courage is moral courage, the courage to stand up and do the right thing even if it means standing alone. Moral courage is something you must develop. You must work on it every day. Moral courage will make you a great leader, but only if you start. So start now!"
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