By COL. DONALD J. MYERS USMC (Ret)
THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY
Commentary on the News
What can we do is a phrase that one hears from people who do not intend to do anything or are afraid to do something that goes against the current tide. It is amazing what one person can achieve if one really ignores the nay Sayers.
Most of the world would still be undiscovered if not for those who desired to see what was over the horizon. Fly across this great country and look out the window at the desolate portions that our settlers crossed in covered wagons. It never ceases to amaze me about the hardships that they overcame in their quest for a better future.
Look at the Hoover Dam and realize that it was constructed under budget and on time when we did not have computers or the current earth movers and other modern equipment.
We are facing numerous challenges today and there are far too many who put their head in the sand and refuse to accept these challenges as challenges.
We put a man on the moon when the initial ability to do so was lacking. Leadership caused that to happen. The president established the goal and the nation followed his lead. We did it.
That is a superb example of what can happen when leadership is provided. Granted, that is on a grand scale, but there are examples on a smaller scale that occur routinely.
Joe Clark led a failing high school in an inner city and turned it around. He refused to be intimidated by some of the hoodlums in the school. There are numerous other examples in other cities of principals who also turned failing schools into models of excellence.
Glen Mills School in Concordville, Pa. is a school for juvenile delinquents, but if one were to visit he would be amazed at the appearance of the students and the campus. It looks like the most prestigious prep school in the country and its sports teams do well in competition. The students will greet you with a handshake while looking you in the eyes. The classes are fantastic. This is the greatest example of what can happen with the proper leadership, guidance, and standards.
Some of our cities are truly suffering from crime, poor schools, and reduced job opportunities and yet there are examples of how to correct that.
Rudy Giuliani faced the same difficulties and turned New York City around. I wonder how many mayors or governors have bothered to examine how and why that occurred. Many governors have implemented conservative programs in their states and the results have generally been positive. Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin went from a huge deficit to a surplus without raising taxes. In fact, he reduced taxes.
Our history is full of fantastic heroes in business, government, and the military but unfortunately in too many instances these stories are not told enough.
“Give me liberty or give me death” by Patrick Henry when addressing the convention in 1775. “I have not yet begun to fight” by John Paul Jones when asked if he surrendered by a British captain. “Nuts” by General Anthony McAuliffe at the battle of the Bulge when asked to surrender by a German envoy. These are just a few of the countless examples of individuals who did not ask what we can do. Our nation is full of individuals who also can stand up and do what is right when leadership is provided.
(Donald Myers is a retired Marine Colonel and regular contributor to The ChesapeakeToday. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org