11 May 2010

An Experience to Remember: the First Salute

My brother-in-law is now an officer in the greatest Army ever assembled.

Cadet Clint Chamberlain was commissioned last Friday, along with seven other reserve officer trainees from the University of Utah ROTC Ute Warrior Battalion. I had the honor of rendering him his first salute.

He is now 2nd Lt. Chamberlain, and he joins the corps of officers in the most powerful army in human history—the Army of the United States of America. Though many commentators have described our land forces in similar terms, I don't use the phrase lightly. It is almost cliché to say it, but it is, indisputably, the most dominant Army ever to go into battle.

Everyday more young men and women join the force and add to its strength. I was reminded of that strength at the commissioning ceremony of the eight Ute cadets, who represent the best qualities of American character.

The keynote speaker at 2nd Lt. Chamberlain’s commissioning ceremony declared we are the best because our Soldiers—officers and enlisted—are committed.

I believe that is only partly true. Other armies have committed soldiers. I served with many in the international Kosovo Force. Other armies have dedicated men, physically fit (often more than ours) and mentally tough. In many other countries it is considered more prestigious to serve in the armed forces than it is in the U.S.

So what sets us apart? It is commitment, but it's not all to be found in our Soldiers. The commitment lies with the American people.

Our Army hasn't always been the powerful force it is today. It won't continue to be, but for the commitment of the voters who insist on excellence. The American public understands that the key to maintaining our way of life is an armed force ready and willing to protect it.

Some speak of the disproportionate resources our military receives. Indeed, it is expensive to train and arm a Soldier. Rightly, most Americans think it a worthy investment.

Others would like simply to see our power recede. They misunderstand what American power represents in the world, and how it benefits our daily lives.

The American Constitution calls for a national armed force, but our founders, in word and deed, proclaimed their suspicion of standing armies, while enshrining the part-time civilian militia's central role in maintaining liberty in the Bill of Rights. So it certainly wasn't inevitable that our military became the dominant force that it is. And it isn't a certainty that it will remain so.

Decisions need to be made in order to maintain the superiority of our military. The most skilled and dedicated officer isn’t worth much without the material and moral support of the people he swears to defend. Many politicians have been elected who have undermined our military by promising to defund key projects, hamstring their fighting ability for political considerations, or ceding sovereignty to international bodies. For the most part, the public hasn’t handed such politicians the power necessary to diminish our military capability. For that, the American People deserve credit.

Commitment. Of our Soldiers, and of the People of the United States.

My salute to 2nd Lt. Chamberlain represents my pride in and respect for him, and my commitment to the military he serves.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations, Clint. If you didn't know, Rich is very proud of you!

    Great post, babe. Each post - despite the humor and annoyance at times - is a reminder to me of your love for your country. I respect that about you.