Just bear with me here and read the set up, kind of lengthy but just truck through.
The bar was dimly lit with candles half burnt out, the wax melting onto the wooden bar. The smell of tobacco spit on the ground and cheap cigars filled the bar, making it almost impossible to inhale deeply without gagging. The beer was warm, the only redeeming grace this seemingly hole in the wall establishment had was that the whiskey was strong. I ordered a glass straight up and took my seat in the corner of the bar facing the door so I could see who came and went. It was the end of September 1773, and America had just won it’s independence and England recognized the sovereignty of the United States in the Treaty of Paris.
A younger man walks in the bar and up to the bar tender. He is immediately given two free drinks and walks away without saying a word. Intrigued by this I debate on whether or not I should go inquire about how this man seems to obtain free alcohol and then not even express is gratitude. I finally can’t find enough excuses to not go speak to the man, so as I casually get a refill on the cheap but strong whiskey, I make my way over and ask if I may be seated. He doesn’t say anything. I say a little louder “Excuse me, but is anyone joining you tonight sir?” Again no reply. Finally, fed up with his arrogance I pull up a chair, sit down, and introduce myself. The man stared past me and didn’t acknowledge my existence. It was becoming apparent that this man had no interest in telling me his secret about how to get free drinks. As I let out a sigh of apathy, getting up I said, “Must be a hard life thinking you’re the only one who lives in your world.” The man chuckled. Finally a reaction, he was a human! He took a drink, and then stopped. He looked like he was about to say something and then took another drink, and finished it. As he set his empty cup on the table, he slowly looked up to me and said, “You came over here because you wanted to know how I was getting free drinks, maybe I am an employee, maybe I am having sex with the owner, maybe the bartender thinks I am a genuinely upstanding person and wants to feed me drinks all night. I don’t feel the need to answer your question, because I don’t owe you anything. What you are IN right now is what I have given to you, and your children, and their children.”
I was confused. This man was babbling, maybe he had quite a few more “free drinks” than I thought.
He sensed my confusion and elaborated on what he meant. The man was older than I but not by much. The man spoke and said “Son sit down.”
“My name is Private Nicolas Street, and I served with the 1st Rhode Island Regiment from 1779-1783. I was one of the unlucky ones whom survived. The reason I am telling you all of this is because you came over here to ask me why I was receiving free drinks, well you see the bartender over there. His son was my best friend and died at the siege of Yorktown. I brought his father back his journal and every letter that he had written but hadn’t sent yet. This is why he serves me free drinks. Not because I brought his son back alive, not because I brought some bloody items back to him, but because we, his son, myself, and thousands of other individuals fought for what we believed in. His son didn’t come back alive, but I did. What you are IN is a free country, which your children will inherit and so on and so on. When it comes down to it, everything that was fought for was won by few and enjoyed by many, so as you go on in your life and enjoy the free country my best friend gave his life for, look back occasionally and remember this conversation and then ask yourself and others you encounter, what have you done for your country, and what could you do to make it better.”
The point of that incredibly long back story was one thing. If you went back in time and could meet someone who had served in the Revolutionary War, and who had lost one if not all of their friends and were asked that. Would you have anything to say back?
The reason this sits so deeply with me is because I am a 23 year old Marine. I enlisted at the age of 18 and have served in the Marine Corps Reserve since then. I have lost close friends, and I rarely get to see my best friend whose goal is to become Sgt Major of the Marine Corps.
This blog isn’t about saying people need to do more for their country, merely a perspective check in the sense of where is this country going and what we can do as a new generation of children step up into leadership roles and more importantly roles that have a voice.
Now I am going to seem like the biggest hypocrite for saying this and then talking about change, but stay with me here. I haven’t ever voted. I have been given so much flak for that being in the Corps but I am a firm believer that if you don’t support either party, why force yourself to pick the lesser of two evils?
That being said, I also believe that a voice that is honest and honest with himself, will not only be heard but listened to as well. Now I can’t sit here and preach change when I literally have done nothing to change anything in my country. Up until this point, I have been a good little Marine and obeyed orders given to me by superiors. That doesn’t mean I always have to agree with them or support them. Which in some instances I do not. What it does mean is I have to carry them out to completion, and even the most flawed order is still an order. You can have as much disdain for a man in position as you want, but the fact that he holds that office or position means that you have to give them the respect and obedience that the office or position warrants.
The point of this entry is simple. Live your life day to day and have an opinion. Make decisions, and even if your opinion is wrong, and your decision is wrong, taking no action at all and being silenced before you can speak is always going to be the wrong choice.