Please do not say “Happy Memorial Day.”
Each year, I reiterate that this is not the proper salutation to convey the very solemn importance of this weekend. I know that everyone wants to focus on Memorial Day sales and such. Then, there are the celebrations over swimming pools opening, and the “official beginning of summer.”
This is a time that has a special meaning, because none of the sales, or pool openings, would be possible if not for those who have given the “last full measure of devotion.” If you say anything, please use the salutation,
or greeting, of “Honor” Memorial Day, or “Remember” Memorial Day. Take a moment to pause, and reflect upon those who have left their homes, their families, their loved ones, all for our being able to live in this great country.
There is nothing “happy” for those who will visit the final resting places of their beloved who gave their all, the ultimate sacrifice for others. Truly, no greater love.
That’s why yesterday, at Georgia Military College, was so heartwarming for me. There I stood before some 45 young men and women who willingly took the oath of office as commissioned officers in our United States Army. Watching those parents, and families, come on stage to place those Second Lieutenant shoulder boards on those young Americans took me back to July 31, 1982, the day I was commissioned as an Army officer. Every one of those young men and women will undoubtedly deploy into a combat zone. It’s not that we seek armed conflict and confrontation. However, these young men and women are the next generation of courageous Americans who have answered the question from Isaiah 6:8, “Who will go for us, whom shall we send?” The response, since June 14th, 1775, has always been, “Here am I, send me.”
What I’ve seen over the past two days, in the small, middle Georgia town of Milledgeville, should make all of us proud. Disciplined young men and women who seek to make a way for themselves, who embrace the ideal of equality of opportunity in our Constitutional Republic, and who are willing to defend our nation’s hard-won honor.
Why should we not want to replicate an educational institution like the Georgia Military College all over America? Consider this staggering factoid: GMC has a 100% graduation rate for its 6-12 preparatory school, and an 80% graduation rate for those who continue on to college/university. GMC is such a respected institution, the US Coast Guard Academy uses it as its Preparatory School. GMC is seeking the same with the US Air Force Academy.
In the State of Georgia, it is estimated that some $10K of taxpayer funds are appropriated per student per year. GMC only receives $3K per student per year, the rest is tuition. What if qualified students were able to have the $10K follow them to GMC? What if that became the model for successful education reform, not just in Georgia, but all across America? What if the focus was on meritocracy, real accomplishments, and achievements in educational institutions — not these insidious “comprehensive” tests where, today, teachers no longer instruct, but teach how to take tests.
Thursday,upon arriving in Milledgeville, I was taken to lunch at an establishment called “The Brick;” a nice place. What I noticed, immediately, were the young preparatory school students, in their red polo shirts, black slacks, and dress black shoes, sitting, and enjoying themselves eating lunch. They were not loud. There was no profanity. As a matter of fact, the Commandant of the Corps of Cadets was upset because he saw some males whose shirts were not fully tucked in. Oh boy, what a very disturbing problem to have, instead of having to tell the young men to pull up their britches.
The two days I spent in Milledgeville, at the Georgia Military College, reassured me that America is gonna be okay. Those hooded, black-clad, Antifa kids — along with their Black Lives Matter counterparts — are not indicative of our nation. We still have parents, families, and institutions, committed to raising the next generation of great Americans: young men and women who are not looking for a “participation trophy,” but who are intelligent, disciplined, and committed to excellence; the true path of higher self-esteem.
What angered me more than anything during my time at GMC for their commencement, and commissioning ceremonies, was that not a single major news media crew was there. Not one camera from any news agency there to highlight these exceptional young men and women. Of course, if there was something bad, or negative, happening, the media would be all over the place. Perhaps that old adage applies: “if a tree falls in the woods, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?”
The astute young men and women of Georgia Military College, nestled in the rolling, pine tree, red clay hills of middle Georgia are making a sound. The are making us all proud. They are carrying on a legacy started in 1879. They are living up to their school’s theme: “start here . . . go anywhere.”
Additionally, they do so honor their alumni who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our America — for which we all should “Honor Memorial Day!”
During his 22 year career in the United States Army, Lieutenant Colonel West served in several combat zones and received many honors including a Bronze Star, three Meritorious Service Medals, three Army Commendation Medals, one with Valor device, and a Valorous Unit Award.
In November of 2010, Allen was elected to the United States Congress, representing Florida’s 22nd District.
West is a commissioned officer in the Texas State Guard. He’s Fox News Contributor, former Director of the Booker T. Washington Initiative at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Senior Fellow at the Media Research Center, contributing columnist for Townhall.com, and author of Guardian of the Republic: An American Ronin’s Journey to Family, Faith and Freedom, and, Hold Texas, Hold the Nation: Victory or Death, and the forthcoming We Can Overcome.