by Matt Krauss
Vermonters are bombarded on a regular basis that race relations are terrible and that we are unable to form a cohesive group working towards a common promising goal. Over the last week in January, activities took place in North Carolina and Georgia proving that is a false narrative. The events were actually quite routine, but the fact they were so routine made them all the more extraordinary.
On a flight from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Columbus, Georgia, to attend an Army graduation ceremony the first eye opening event took place. Three very young soldiers sat in the first row of the airplane. Based upon their name tags and their physical appearance they might be described as a Black and two Hispanic soldiers. The remainder of the passengers looked like a typical group of Americans you would see in any southern restaurant. Most older, some younger, black, white, Hispanic, Asian American, etc. A ordinary group of Americans, but what some of them did made them special. As they came thru the plane perhaps six or seven passengers said to the soldiers in the first row, “Thank you for your service.” A heartfelt expression and a genuine appreciation for their service to America. Can we comprehend what that simple activity represents? From the southern shame of Bull Connor, fire hoses and police dogs to young minority soldiers sitting in the front of the airplane and other passengers thanking them for their service to America. We need to observe, report, and celebrate America’s growth, progress, and patriotism.
Sometimes in Vermont the warrior ethos and unashamed patriotism are not often displayed or appreciated. But there are many Vermonters who quietly fly an American flag, proudly display patriotic bumper stickers on their vehicles, and have sons, daughters and relatives serving in the military.
Let’s not allow the loudest voices in the public arena to be proclaiming division, hostility between the races, and damnation of Americans and American ideals.
The 178 soldiers who officially completed their infantry training that Friday morning were from around America. Maine, New Hampshire, and New Jersey were in attendance. The top performing soldier was a young white soldier from Michigan. The top drill sergeant was a Hispanic from Alaska. A glance of the graduates showed Black and Asian American soldiers. The proud family sitting behind us was speaking Spanish to a grandmother.
At the graduation ceremony the battalion commander gave the closing speech to the graduates of Echo Company. The field upon which they marched and graduated was named Daniel Inouye field. He was veteran of World War 2, Medal of Honor recipient, and was grievously wounded in battle. He later became a US Senator from Hawaii. The field contained soil from famous infantry battlefields throughout our proud history. The graduates had a real and tangible connection with previous generations of soldiers who defended our nation.
Families, friends, and visitors numbered several hundred individuals. The leader asked the veterans in attendance to please stand and be recognized; they did, some a little slower than others. The applause given these aging veterans brought some tears.
Twenty-two weeks before the graduating soldiers received a military haircut and began basic training. Love of country drove many to volunteer. They are changed for the better by their common experiences. They were more trim and in shape than most Americans. Their language more respectful towards their elders and showed pride in their accomplishments. They learned to make their own beds and did their own laundry, some for the first time ever.
The last act on graduation day was the return of individual cell phones. The soldiers had voluntarily surrendered their cell phones 22 weeks prior. Can you imagine anyone voluntarily handing over their cell phone for 22 minutes or 22 days, let alone 22 weeks?
Following the graduation ceremony was time for collective laughter, joy, shared stories, friendship, hugs and introductions of family. Within an hour most of the new soldiers boarded waiting buses headed to their first duty assignment.
The two-day graduation celebration offered a continuing and inspiring story and a visual representation of service to the nation. And the true melting pot of America. It’s something unconsciously ignored or forgotten by many Americans.
America is much better than those who run down our nation, and it’s ideals. We would be wise to ignore those who constantly complain about our failings.
Oh, I forgot to mention one of those graduating infantry soldiers was from Lamoille County Vermont; my youngest son.
Matt Krauss, of Stowe, is a happily retired state employee and former Vermont legislator. Feedback is welcomed at email@example.com
“Sometimes in Vermont the warrior ethos and unashamed patriotism are not often displayed or appreciated.” Unfortunately, for a lot of Vermont that heritage has been overtly replaced with that of the “social justice warrior” and anti-Americanism. The “safe space” of a foxhole to protect from mortars landing nearby has been replaced with a room full of people who all share the same “worldview” and shame anyone who disagrees. Maintaining race baiting and COVID lockdowns and mandates are some of the last refuges of authoritarianism of those who run the political party which opposed emancipation, established Jim Crow laws and founded the KKK. Thanks for bringing in some of the view from outside Vermont, Matt.
richlapelle, as I’ve stated elsewhere, the “movement” wants to tear down society and abolish civil liberties. I myself am being stalked, harassed, and physically threatened by Antifa and its supporters. Really. The problems are pervasive.
I myself am not patriotic. I won’t salute any flag, a graven image, a piece of cloth. Nevertheless I respect military service. Whatever politicians do, rank and file serves. Without a military a country will be overrun. I continue to respect military service. I myself would have liked to have been a Marine. My disability prevented it.
I believe that a country is its people and its land. This is a concept as old, even older, than the Old Scriptures.
I myself assisted a homeless veteran, Pvt. Clinton Charles Angerman, Jr.. When he returned from the war in Vietnam he found himself homeless in the town in which he’d grown up, Egg Harbor City, N.J. He secured a maintenance job with the city. Too much to explain here. I have a brief letter explaining the story.
I live in Irasburg. I’m a character. Technically somewhere on the “autistic” spectrum. I’m rational and honest. My problems have always been agonizingly physiological. I’ve been an activist for decades. Like many people on the “left”, I’m appalled, disgusted and outrages by what is happening in this country and this world. I don’t agree with everything that our government does. I despise Donald Trump. Nevertheless there are many of us who have found common ground with “conservatives”. Facts are facts.
Scott Norman Rosenthal
Do not drink the Kool-Aid. This is not your father’s military anymore. Do not enlist! You will be used not to defend the U.S. Constitution but to subvert it. Make no mistake you will be joining the tyrannical New World Order military. Your enemy will be represented to be domestic not foreign. You will be used to oppress any patriotic dissent and protect Socialist tyranny now in full control the country.
Thank you Matt Krauss, regardless of where one stands (hopefully soon we will find a way to stand together again); the story you’ve told is important to be paying attention to whats good in this world, and the USA. Had tears in my eyes by the end, and oh yes Proud mom of retired USCG son! I felt the same way at that graduation some 24 years ago……..