At a time it is fashionable to discuss World War III, I begin with these words from World War II, found at the gateway to the memorial that stands beside the monument to George Washington:
"Women who stepped up were measured as citizens of the Nation, not as women. This was a people's war, and everyone was in it". Colonel Oveta Culp Hobby.
This spirit is alive and well today.
Who is not indescribably proud of the example set by Pat Tillman, who gave up the comforts of multi-million dollar superstardom, to give his life for our country in the aftermath of 9-11?
Who is not indescribably proud of those kids who gathered cell phone minutes to donate to the troops, so they could talk to their families who love them at home?
This spirit is alive and well throughout our America today, though one would not know it from the sneering and leering tone of our national discourse, the partisanship and character assassination that has infected our democracy, and the sensationalism and cheapening of much of our media.
It is the anomaly of our times: great generation Americans yearning for unity and searching for their own personal ways to contribute and serve, virtually ignored by lost generation elites of our politics and media. So many cable stations, so little to watch, so many politicians, so few leaders. "Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you."
What we have seen for twenty years in our politics and media is a polarization and a segmentation in which we are broken down into smaller parts, compartmentalized and separated from each other, often divided and increasingly demonized, by institutions and exploiters who do not
respect the idea of America as a whole, which is the true idea that most Americans hold.
At the recent Sun Valley "media moguls" gathering, according to press reports there was talk that many of the leading lights of media owners were "feeling poor" and were beginning a discussion of old media versus new, which parallels the growing debate of old politics versus new.
I predict there will be overwhelming demand for political change beginning the day after the coming election, no matter who wins; at next year's Sun Valley gathering, there will be excited discussion of the subject of this note, between some who have won, and others who have not.
For those in politics, business and media it begins and ends with this often forgotten truth: The customer is always right. If there is huge unpopularity of both parties in Washington, the road to renewal is clear. If there is declining audience and value in older media properties out of touch with the modern mood, the path to success is clear.
The customer is always right. Listen to the customer. In our land of democracy and freedom, pay heed and respect to its only true voice, the people.
Across America there is a deep and powerful hunger for a renewed sense of unity, purpose and common endeavor; there is a powerful drive for a politics that appeals to our nobler spirits, for a business that reflects our civic and commercial integrity, for a media that respects our intellect, aspirations and goodwill.
I now own the domain name inthistogether.info and later in the year will use it to reflect these huge national aspirations, and in the meantime will be counselling those in positions to lead in their various fields of endeavor to respond to this national outpouring looking for ways to act. In America, whether our wars are against terrorists or hunger, they are the peoples war, and everyone is in it.
What I propose, is we begin with new national commitment to support those who fight our wars, whether those wars are right or not:
That we stand up together, for the homeless heroes, the veterans who risked their lives for our country and should now command our attention and goodwill in their time of need.
That we stand with the wounded and the hurting who were sent to war with support from 95% of our leaders from the safety of home, yet asked to bear 99% of the hardship and sacrifice and too often, shamefully, not even given the minimal armor and protection they need,
then too often forced, shamefully, to suffer financial hardship, to pay
for their wounds.
What I propose, in the spirit of "the last shall be first", is that a
mobilization for the homeless heroes of America be translated into a
great and lasting national community that will leave no man or woman
behind, in which we join together behind John F. Kennedy's call to
action that "here on earth, God's work must truly be our own".
What I propose, in the spirit of Thomas Paine, is that once this latest
sorry episode of politics is concluded on election day, that Americans
once again stand together, dream together, work together and always
all of us are blessed to share together the greatest light that ever lit
What I propose for our divided nation, as we approach the fifth
anniversary of the fires burning from lower Manhattan to Northern
Virginia, with violence raging throughout the cradle of the great
religions, is that we differ with dignity, we disagree with honor, we
debate with respect, and we remember that the heroic firemen and
police who gave their lives, that day, knew that we are all, indeed, in
What I propose, while we are engulfed by the turmoil and ugliness of the
evening news, is that generations that came before us faced far harder
challenges, and emerged triumphant because they stood together, in their
times, as we must, in ours.
What I propose, is that the overwhelming calls for national unity that
are today met with eyes that don't see, and ears that don't hear, be
honored and uplifted with a generosity of spirit from Veteran's Day to
Thanksgiving to the Christian and Jewish spirit that will grace our
land, this coming December.
It is fashionable, as well, to speak of our times in tones of
Armageddon. What I propose
instead, as we enter the new year, is that we think in terms of a
resurrection of our national spirit of togetherness, in terms of our
passover that will bring our people closer together, in the spirit of
Martin Luther King, who we honor in January, and Washington and Lincoln,
who we celebrate in February.
I write these words on a sweltering Sunday, thinking how unbearably hot
it is, knowing that on this day, our young brothers and sisters are
suffering the same heat, burdened by heavy combat gear, facing bullets
and bombs from unknown sources, in distant lands.
I am literally kneeling at the foot of the Vietnam Memorial, to write
for you these tributes to those who are no longer with us in body, but
are forever with us in spirit, in the words of those who love them:
Killed in Action.
Dinh Tuang Province.
United States Army.
Forever 20 years old.
Killed in Action
Thua Tien Province.
United States Army.
Forever 19 year old.
Killed In Action
Quang Tri Province
United States Marine Corps.
Forever 18 years old.
Killed in Action.
Quang Tri Province.
United States Marine Corps.
Forever 21 years old.
These young men and women on that Wall,
and those who serve today, have answered the call to action and
patriotism, in their way, as we can, in ours. Those who have left us
were the young in life and spirit, giving up their dreams, ambitions and
aspirations so we could have ours. If they were with us today in body,
some would be serving in Congress, others driving trucks, writing
screenplays, or surviving on the corner of Wisconsin and M Street in our
capital, homeless but hanging on.
These young men and women are with
us today in spirit, inspiring the best of who we are, and who we can be,
fight our enemies of terror or the enemies of hunger, homelessness,
apathy, neglect or the small minds that seek to divide our people.
So, to the politicians seeking our votes, the media moguls seeking our
business leaders seeking our dollars, hear the message of the people,
that is loud and clear from the far corners of the country, from the
houses of worship to the union halls, from the military families to
Middle America, from the young idealists in our schools to the elderly
heroes from the Great Generation who spend their last twilight hours
Near the end of Band of Brothers, Captain Richard Winters of the 101st
Airborne, who landed at Normandy, spoke of the conversation where it was
asked: "Are you a hero?"
"No," came the answer, "but I served in a Company of heroes".
America at its best, is a company of heroes, a good and brave people,
inspired by leaders to even greater bravery and heroism with common
cause. Americans hear the trumpet that summons us again, and given the
call, as always, will respond with a courage and generosity of spirit
that has been the center of our national life.
In war and peace, we are a band of brothers and sisters, Born In The
USA.and proud of it,
in this together and always faithful, to our country, to our values, and
to each other.