Saturday, November 11, 2006

No Benedict Arnold Burris

Chuck Colson's article, Unexcused Absence-Why Don’t Elite Americans Serve? in explores some aspects of the American elite's disdain for the military. When Senator John McCain's son signed up, it was big news. When Frank Schaeffer's son, grandson of the late, great Francis Schaeffer, signed up, his first reactions were horror and embarrassment.

Kathy Roth - Douquet and Frank Schaeffer are the authors of AWOL: The Unexcused Absence of America's Upper Classes from Military Service — and How It Hurts Our Country.

Some excerpts from the Colson article:

"They argue in the book that from our country's founding onward, serving one's country in the military has always been expected — especially among the scions of the upper class, what a previous generation called noblesse oblige. As evidence, the authors point to the fact that, as recently as the 1950s, half the graduating classes of Princeton and Harvard — the sons of bankers and businessmen — signed up for a tour of duty, as I myself did after graduating from Brown. Today, fewer than one percent do. Overwhelmingly, those who serve today are from the middle and working class, rural and small town."

"Why is this dangerous? Well, the authors write, wealthy elites who avoid military service will someday be running America — and their ignorance about what our military endures or is capable of may cause them to misuse our troops. Studies show that they tend to look down on those who do serve, and they put too small a value on their willingness to serve, why they serve, and on what this service gives in return." [...]

"Schaeffer and Roth-Douquet are right: It's wrong for an entire class of Americans to consider themselves exempt from serving their country — and then to expect to lead it. Tomorrow — Veterans Day — we ought to reflect not only on the sacrifices made by earlier generations of veterans, but also on how we can spread out the sacrifice more fairly among all classes of Americans."

"America's most privileged youth should remember something their ancestors well understood: To whom much is given, much is expected — and that applies to serving their country."

The elite Burri family has bucked the trend toward disdain and evasion of service in the military. Uncles Dave and Fred were stationed in Pearl Harbor during the actual "Tora, Tora, Tora". They served to the defeat of Japan in WW II. While Jerry served as an Anchor Clanker in the Pacific the North Vietnamese and Al Qaeda steered clear. While I served to restore a crumbling Europe and limit damage by 'Al Qaeda-oid' groups, the United States lived in safety. While Lance and Todd served, America continued in security and prosperity.

We Burris may be 'uppity hoity-toitians', but we were proud to serve.

Happy Veteran's Day!

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