In 1995 I moved to a new home in Maryland, my fourth place in four years – which was not unusual for a junior Noncommissioned Officer. There were around forty soldiers moving into the same place, a new unit and the first of its kind. What that meant was each of us assumed a new duty that our experience and training had not prepared us for.
It was most challenging for the headquarters, where a group of mechanics, commo and security folks took over the administrative jobs of setting up a company. Job descriptions were developed based on what needed doing rather than any established SOP.
During that time a young Food Service Specialist knocked on my door and asked where she’d be working. I told her we didn’t have a mess hall and the closest was civilian run. For now, we’d both be doing whatever needed to be done.
She said ‘what you got?’ and I handed her a crate of pubs and said find a system and get these off the floor and onto shelves. Which she did quickly and then came back for the next job, and the next. Until we went to the field (which meant she finally had work in her specialty) she took care of much of the writing that her bosses didn’t have time to do, and became what some call the ‘glue guy,’ the person who does the unsung jobs that enables everyone else to focus on theirs.
While she was doing this she was raising two small kids, taking college courses and studying for her citizenship test. She’d flown to Florida from Haiti as an eight-year-old and enlisted to serve her new country at the earliest possible time.
She’d had bosses who hadn’t given her the time to complete her citizenship requirements yet managed to maintain the most professional of attitudes. Now in a new place, she had to go through the process of finding the office, taking the test. I’d like to say we helped and we did but minimally. She did most of the legwork often with a small child under each arm and while doing a full load of work as a US Soldier. And was sworn in as a US citizen by the end of the year.
Any work we might have done was worth it as she became a decorated soldier and a worker often requested by name when the commander needed a competent professional for whatever the project.
My soldier who got off a plane from Haiti at eight years old, grew up and became the professional leader who excelled at each job thrown her way, managed to do more for her country, this country, than the malingering bone spur that’s taking up space in the White House.
This started on another page and was directed to a politician. I'm sure you know the reference well by now. However, it's not the bigot at the top of the pyramid that concerns me. It's the citizen who has treated this level of hatred with a shrug of the shoulder, who has accepted the mischaracterization of people who came from various corners of the world to build this country and defend it - and not everyone by choice. It's the citizen too tied to political sides that they don't look at the people around them and see people. Without that, there's nothing that the removal of a hateful politician can accomplish other than leaving space for the next hateful replacement. Change has to happen internally, then in discussions around the dinner table and then by a knock on our neighbor's door. Time to stop being scared of difference.
My soldier is one person out of millions who've fulfilled the promise of Democracy by showing nobility is a character potentially present at all social levels, and not just a matter of inheritance. This is the truth those intent on destroying Democracy are trying to destroy.