Anthony Castelli Attorney is pleased to announce the award of the 2021 Veteran's colllege scholarship sponsored by ther Law Office of Anthony D Castelli to Ben Davis. Ben wrote the best essay on The American Military's Place in Preserving Freedom for the United States.It is reproduced in full below. He will be attending Berkely. We wish him continued success.
The American Military's Place in Preserving Freedom for the United States
“All gave some, some gave all.”
Visiting the Fort Rosecrans Memorial and Arlington National Cemeteries are very emotional for me. My grandfather is a retired Colonel in the Marine Corps. He served during the Cuban Missile crisis and in Vietnam, and in the Reserves for 27 years after his active duty. He is also a U.S. History professor, and he has shaped my understanding of American history and what citizenship and service are. He taught me that Memorial Day, Veterans Day and Independence Day are not just long weekends for picnics and baseball, an extra day off.
These holidays are a time to honor and reflect on those who have served, sacrificed and even died in the service of our country. My grandfather and father taught me that citizenship entails responsibilities as well as rights, that democracy can not be taken for granted, and that our country is still relatively young and unique among nations. There are still many people around the world who are not free, and the United States must continue to work at being the “City On a Hill” and a “beacon among nations.”
“Freedom Isn’t Free”
Responsibilities include more than simply voting or paying taxes, Americans must contribute in other ways, as well, in order to maintain our freedom and contribute to the nation. Different people contribute in different ways, as it should be. Not everyone wants to, or should serve in the armed forces. Military cemeteries such as Fort Rosecrans and Arlington National represent those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service of our country and its people, which should hold a special and revered place in our consciousness.
All Americans owe a debt of gratitude to those who serve to keep us safe and free. Thomas Ricks, the journalist and historian, pointed out that during the draft era, military service and public schools were great equalizing forces in American society. Particularly after World War II, the unity and progress characterized by “The Greatest Generation” was possible in part because of the shared experiences so many had through public schools and military service.
Ricks also stated that the “1% of society” is typically used to describe the wealthiest people. In the post-draft era, this term more aptly applies to all our volunteer military. 1 The phrase “the 1%” does capture the separation and disconnect in American society today.
This is significant because the public is no longer connected to the military experience, and the increasingly high sacrifices our troops and military families are making. When the draft was in place, virtually all Americans had family members, friends and neighbors who served.
Direct relationships meant most people understood and appreciated the military to a greater degree, leading more people to want to support veterans, particularly those who suffered for their service. Referring again to Ricks’ interview, he suggested that the American people would not stand for the interminable wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, if more citizens had a greater personal understanding of the burden falling on our all volunteer forces. 1 https://www.npr.org/2012/11/01/164096479/ricks-firing-generals-to-fight-... Heard on Fresh Air
I agree with Thomas Ricks’ thesis. I believe the consequence of this disconnect between the American people at large, and our military, contributes to the suffering of many veterans and military families. Because not enough Americans see our troops’ suffering or are connected to their experience, it increases the importance of organizations like the American Legion.
My grandfather taught me that democracy is a “participatory sport,” and that our freedom and rights can’t be taken for granted. Whether or not someone serves in the military, participating in civil society means things like serving on the School Board, membership organizations like Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs or the Parks Department Board of Advisors, coaching Little League, and other efforts towards the common good. Our nation would definitely be stronger, and less polarized, if more people participated in civil society to serve others.
The American Legion has pioneered the type of civil service that exemplifies the type of commitment that strengthens civil society, and is more necessary than ever. Even during times when veterans are supported adequately, which is unfortunately not always the case, civil society and organizations must work to bridge the gap. One thing that makes the Legion special is not just the service and support of veterans and military families, but it’s support of the values underpinning civil society.
I was fortunate to be selected by American Legion Post 275 as a Delegate to California Boys State in 2020. Unfortunately the summer conference was not held due to COVID, but I am happy to be considered an “alumni,” and to be included as an adjunct member. It is a great way for me to participate, as I noted above, in civic organizations that serve our military veterans.
The Armed Forces of the United States are our sword and shield. It protects us against aggression at home and abroad. America is still a relatively young country, and democracy is constantly under attack, both at home and abroad. America needs a strong and capable military to defend against current and future enemies.
Though the methods of warfare are changing rapidly, and many enemies may attempt simply to destabilize, rather than invade, our military must be at the forefront of our defense.
After the challenges we all faced from COVID, I am very excited to start college this Fall. One of the things that has helped me stay healthy and focused during the pandemic has been exercising every morning with my dog, Fenway. We run four miles to the Veteran’s Memorial at the top of Mount Soledad. It is the only Memorial that honors veterans, living or deceased, from the Revolutionary War to the current war on terrorism, with an image of the veteran.
I pause each morning and take in the beautiful view and look at the images of those that served and gave the ultimate sacrifice. I think about their courage, and hope someday to live up to such an example of strength of character and conduct.
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