The future leaders of America fight in Iraq today.
I caught a teaser for a news story today on AFN (the American Forces Network
) showing a clip of an interview with an army three star. In the brief moment that I saw, this general mentioned that in addition to freeing the people of Afghanistan from the Taliban and the Iraqis from Saddam Hussein and his murderous band of thugs, the events of the war on terror were forming the next generation of American leaders. These men and women have “seen the elephant
” (just so you know: this link is to a graphic recounting of one combat vet’s experience). So what does the future hold for them?
Is there another Eisenhower in this generation, or another McCain? I am not talking about the general officers and colonels of today, but about the lieutenants and captains, the privates, corporals and sergeants. Will we see these men and women again in twenty or thirty years (or sooner), as they climb onto the stage of national power? I certainly hope so, and I am confident we will. Many of the veterans of these conflicts have already emerged in the blogosphere, such as the amazing Armor Geddon
. They are already making their voices heard.
I have never served in the military. I tried two years of Army ROTC in college and that was enough to convince me to seek other ways to serve. Everyday when I walk into the Embassy and see the Marine Security Guards, or the Defense Attaché’s Office staff I wonder if I made the right choice. There is something innately comforting about seeing that Marine first thing in the morning, and knowing that the Ambassador has a professional military staff to advise and guide his decisions.
We will need the veterans of the war on terror in place ready to serve again in the future. It may be unfair to ask of them, but America has always had warriors transition into politics. To quote General George Washington:
“When we assumed the soldier, we did not lay aside the citizen.”
We need reminders that war really is hell, that our freedom truly is not free, and that even though it may be necessary going to war must be weighed carefully- we need men like Senator John McCain who survived and persevered and emerged to lead and can be counted on to provide a voice of reason.
To our veterans returning: thank you, thank you, thank you. I wish you and your families well, and hope that you are successful in whatever endeavors you pursue. I only ask that you not recede entirely in to the lives you may once have had, but keep an eye on America. She will need you once again, at some point. Whether you are a Republican or Democrat or Independent, you are a large part of the future of American leadership, and I look forward to meeting you again someday, as you amswer the call again.