August 2008 Archives

MSU 14: Louisiana Tech 22

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Ugly. Just ugly. 'Nuff said.

Uniform Inspires Act of Honoring Airmen, Silver Wings, 22 August 2008, p. 9

I was pleased to see an article in the Columbus Air Force Base newspaper about an Air Force Master Sergeant at Luke Air Force Base having her books bought for her by a citizen. It is was nice to read that almost 7 years after the events of 11 September 2001, there are citizens who are still thankful and appreciative of what the military does for them. What’s more telling is the fact that this person recently lost his brother to the conflict in Iraq. This man had made a tremendous sacrifice yet he wanted to thank this Airman for her service.

I too have been blessed with the kindness of ordinary people over the years. During drill weekends it was not at all uncommon to have people, generally elderly, but not always, come up and thank me and those I was with for what we do. On my trips home I have also seen kindness. It was never much, but it was meaningful. Perhaps the most meaningful was a stop at Burger King on my home from drill one Sunday. I was in uniform and ran in to get a couple of burgers. The total cost was only a few dollars but when I pulled out my wallet to pay, the young lady, okay the girl—seemed to still be in high school—told me there was no charge. I thanked her but told her I wanted to pay. Her response was “No, I appreciate what you do and this makes me feel like I am serving my country too.” I couldn’t argue with that logic.

Whether it is books or burgers, we do appreciate these gestures of kindness. But please excuse us if we seem a little uncomfortable. Most of us were reared in environments where we were the ones who were expected to make the sacrifices for others and we are not used to having others show us that side—outside the military anyway.

Generation Entitlement

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The Navy and the Generation of Entitlement, by LCDRSteven L. Rogers, USN, Naval Reserve Association News, August 2008, p. 14.

This commentary struck a chord with me. The article mentioned that we have the baby boomers, the Gen-X and Gen-Y crowd, and even the Millennials, but the author described a new generation he calls Generation Entitlement. This is the generation that my generation messed up by trying to make sure they did not do without. It seemed like a good idea at the time but now I think we, and they, would have been better served by experiencing a little more adversity in their lives.

LCDR Rogers points out that “[t]hese individuals question all authority, care little about tradition, and refuse to embrace a work ethic which requires ‘earning your way’.” He also states they are arrogant, self-serving, and impatient. He says they do not belong in the Navy and I would add they do not belong anywhere.

Before I run the risk of generalizing about an entire generation, let me be the first to add that within this generation are a large number of exceptions. These are the people who are hard-working, dedicated, and believe in sacrifice. They look at what has been given them not as an entitlement but rather as a gift to be used to better themselves and society. They really are out there and I have had the privilege of meeting them.

However, I have also had more than my fair share of meeting the self-serving Gen E’ers. Over the last few days I have been dealing with more than fair share of them. They have been asked to sit out of school for various periods of time because of poor academic performance and have been petitioning for readmission. Far too many have had parents and distant relative intervene on their behalf. I have heard all kinds of excuses as to how they got in trouble and how not they really will work hard to do better. Some really have identified their difficulties and taken action to correct the problems. Others simply want a bye because they feel entitled.

I also have the privilege and honor of dealing with many other students who have shown remarkable maturity and insight. They have recognized problems that they have and are working to correct those problems. They are the students I like. They realize why they are in school and know that their success depends on them. Even though some of them have found themselves in trouble I have never spoken to their parents about those difficulties. I do know that their parents care, and care deeply, but they are letting their children handle the problems while they provide emotional support. These students will be successful. They are going places and I am proud to be a part of their journey. The others are destined for either failure or a big wake-up call in the future.

As for me, I much prefer those who do not feel they are entitled.

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