Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Patriot's Serenity

A volunteer to the service, he joined the cause of independence because his morality and faith demanded it of him. He wasn’t a General and won’t be found in the history books. Malcolm Reynolds was a Sergeant, leading thirty men into the fight. As the battle raged on, his military leadership lay dead or dying, the ranks of men and women following his lead swelled to two thousand. In the final climatic days of the battle for Serenity Valley, there were only four hundred still alive under his command. Confronted by staggering losses and overwhelming opposing numbers, the leaders of the Independents surrendered the field. While politicians and bureaucrats brokered the terms, two weeks of waiting whittled his force to one hundred and fifty, barely eight percent of those that had followed him. Deserted by his leaders, the cause he had championed was lost. Here was a man with a history of duty and patriotism; not his punch lines, but his core beliefs. Some people don’t know what to do when their belief system collapses. Malcolm Reynolds is one of them. Mercy, forgiveness, trust. All of this, he left behind, though it could be said that he never left Serenity Valley.

Yes, the above anecdote is the foundation of a fictional character, Malcolm Reynolds of Firefly, summarized by a character establishing quote pertaining to GSGT Bob Lee Swagger from Shooter. However, its existence as fiction does not mean a quality life lesson can’t be found. It is stories such as those that our society uses to pass on ethos and morality. A similar tale was recently opinioned by LT COL Tony Shaffer, relating to the final moments of former Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods, an American Patriot who died during the attack on the Benghazi Consulate. All of the facts regarding the attack, it’s impetus, or the response, have not yet come out. Regrettably, they may never be fully revealed, and questions, controversy, and doubts will continue long into the future.

The notion that four Americans were abandoned in favor of political factors is mentally shattering. The greatest strength of the U.S. Military is the faith the service members have in their fellows. Each would readily sacrifice his own life to save the man next to him. More important, best expressed by the United States Marine Corps motto, Semper Fidelis (Always Faithful), is the rigid belief in No Man Left behind. A dozen will stand up, rushing to rescue one, without regard for their own lives.. In the case of Benghazi, news stories relate tales of help and aid that was ready, but never deployed. Also debated is what the Administration actually knew about the nature of the attack compared to what they told the media and public. The political spin will continue as our knowledge on the particulars are refined. To further obfuscation the matter, each side will make accusations against the other side, utilizing false impressions of their opponent’s policy to guide the conversation. What is needed, in response to all the political maneuvering, is a skeptical citizenry with a questioning attitude. Do not accept the statements from politicians, senior military leaders, or even the media pundits at face value. Ask the hard questions, insist on full disclosure, and do not relent.

Past all the political nonsense, always hold on to the heart of this story. Tyrone Woods, an American Patriot, facing overwhelming odds, fought to protect his fellows. Those moments where a select few stay behind, to defend the retreat of others, deserves to be honored and memorialized. The ability to defy one’s innate sense of self preservation and run towards the sound of gun fire must be rewarded with respect. The geek in me sees such boldness as the source for the “art reflecting life” of the fictional Browncoats from Firefly. As a final note, while you may end up on the losing side of the battle, may you never find yourself on the wrong side.

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