Teens and July 4


The above link is to Thomas Payne’s “The Crisis”. It was written six months after the Declaration of Independence and at a very low point for the American Revolutionary War effort. It begins with the immortal words, “These are the times that try men’s souls: the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country…  It was so inspiring that George Washington asked Payne to read it to the troops, just before the crossing of the Delaware and a surprise victory over the king’s mercenaries, the Hessians.

I came from a military family on both sides and at times I felt that I was overdosing on patriotism.  It didn’t help that my teenage years coincided with the Vietnam War, when, in both high school and college, male students joked that grades should be A, B, C, D and V for instant Vietnam draftee.  My own dad had fought on the bloody islands of Okinawa, just south of Japan’s mainland, and our president’s recent trip to Hiroshima made me realize that I probably wouldn’t exist today if President Truman hadn’t had the political courage to drop two atom bombs. These bombs, it has been estimated, saved the lives of a million GIs and up to 20 million Japanese teens (and even 12 year olds!) who were being trained with sharpened bamboo to repel an American invasion from the south and a Soviet one from the north.

I explained to my 14 year old why I was opposed to the Vietnam War (which had instantly ostracized me from my peer group, top level Texas high school and collegiate athletes): First, the great Dwight Eisenhower had warned of the dangers of ever getting involved in an Asian land war.  Second, the topography and geographic position of Vietnam made it virtually impossible to interdict enemy supply lines through Laos, Cambodia and China.  The coup de grace for our troops was the elaborate system of hundreds of miles of tunnels, 1-2 meters below the surface, which which made their people impervious to bombing.

I then went on to give my new teen his own set of “trying times”:

*For the first time ever the jihadist terror group ISIS has had three attacks in the same week-in Iraq, Turkey and Bangladesh, each ironically a Muslim nation.

*For the first time in our 228 year election history, the two major party candidates both have more negatives than positives in the voters’ minds.

*For the first time ever a president will finish two terms not having a single year of 3% GDP growth, our long term average and a record avoided even during “The Great Depression” of the 1930’s.

*For the first time we’ve had two consecutive presidents who will have eight years each of doubling the national debt, which will be a heavy burden on both our kids AND grand-kids.

Don’t forget to have a “July 4th talk” with your teen-they’ll be a voter either this year, 2018 or 2020!


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