Courage to speak

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- Imagine instead of living in present day, you are alive in United Colonies around the summer of 1776. The northern colonies are already at war and news spreads that the King is going to send reinforcements to quell the uprisings.

There are Patriots proclaiming independence, Loyalists promoting the status-quo, and a large number of folks in between trying to decide what is right for the future. The colonies don’t have a centralized army, proper experience or equipment, so odds are that the Americans won’t be able to last against one of the world’s superpowers.

Visionaries such as Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin outlined a document that will declare the colonies to be independent from the British. Believing in the cause of independence, would you have the strength of character to sign? Would you stand up with the 56 others that penned the sacred document?

In hindsight, we see it turned out well, but at the time they signed they knew that their official signature potentially signed them up for imprisonment, the loss of home and business, future poverty or even death.
The founding fathers were models for us on how to stand up in the face of adversity.

While the times and challenges are different, we all have to make decisions on where we stand. As citizens of the greatest country in the world and as members of the armed forces we have to decide how we move the country forward.

One of the strengths of today’s military is our diversity. We come from all over with different stories and experiences.

If individuals have courage to speak up, their voices can be combined to give our leaders greater situational awareness and increased knowledge into different decisions. Gen. George S. Patton said, “If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking.” He understood the importance of diversity. He knew the dangers of groupthink and yes-men.

We owe it to our military to respectfully speak up on issues. President George Washington said, “It is far better to be alone, than to be in bad company.”

I know it can be hard to disagree with a superior. I can understand the fear of “rocking the boat” or worrying about your report card. In his epic story, author Hans Christian Andersen tells of an Emperor who marches forth among his subjects who all hold their tongues in fear of appearing dumb or unfit. Only one, a small child, has the Emperor’s back and speaks truth to the Emperor that he isn’t wearing anything at all.
I am proud to be serving in the most advanced freedom defending organization that has ever existed on the planet.

I believe in freedom and the decree that all men are created equal. That is why I entered and remain in the military. May we continue to follow in the footsteps of the great men and women who have shown us what it means to stand for something worth fighting for.

Victory by Valor!