This week I have been absorbing all that I can relative to the Vietnam War, trying to understand the political realities that led us into and out of that quagmire and reflecting on the names on a wall in our nation’s capital. My respect for our military is bone deep and has been nurtured by an early life shaped by the confines of existence as a military dependent living in “quarters” on an Army post. It was to be expected, I suppose, that I would follow in my father’s footsteps and climb into an airplane for a year in Vietnam. I expect no reward from folks that I walk or drive by in a truck bearing the Vietnam Service ribbon or announcing my specialty in those days as a field artillery fire direction control specialist. Sometimes I actually feel guilt that I have enjoyed an America paid for with the blood of my contemporaries that we honor this weekend and was able to walk to the airplane bringing me home. If you are a combat veteran, no matter the conflict, you know what I am talking about. This weekend, I will honor the sacrifice of those that died fighting for something that America deemed or deems important.
The horror of the shooting in Texas has left every American possessing an ounce of compassion and a measure of civility with a desperate need to do something to positively impact the situation. When you see something that is profoundly wrong, you want to correct it. As a career police officer, that is precisely where I am at this moment. It appears that errors in judgement, perhaps with catastrophic consequences, may have been made. America is hanging her head in shame. If the horrible loss of innocent life is not enough, we have well meaning leadership lashing out pushing their version of a fix for such events. In times of unspeakable horror, we expect our elected leadership to respond methodically and reflectively in addressing the lack of spiritual grounding and morality in a country that is obsessed with violence. On a far lesser scale than this killing, I have witnessed violent and tragic death over the course of a long police career. If I had all of the answers in addressing the lack of morality that is gripping our younger generations, I would sit at the right hand of the Lord. I do not, but can assure you that we have never been able to legislate morality and we aren’t going to do it now. There was a time when every pickup truck on high school parking lots had a rifle or shotgun prominently displayed in the rear window. The trucks were also mostly unlocked. What has changed? People have changed. Mass killers are not interested in a law review before they begin their depraved slaughter of folks, usually ending in their own demise by their own hand or those of the police. Please listen to this old trooper, these shootings are going to continue until such time as we address the mindset of the sociopathic individuals who walk among us, mostly undetected, or deny them access to our children. Sociopaths cannot kill what they cannot get to. There has been a fundamental shift in morality in this country, manifested in the younger generations raised in a culture of graphic violence and a new law is not going to impact this.
Here is the assignment for this week. Hug your kids and grandkids and thank the Lord they have been spared the machinations of folks bent on terror. Honor the sacrifice of those who have died in the service of this country. Watch the politicians that serve you. You can get a feel for the depth of their reasoning as they address the Uvalde shooting. This is no time for screamers and chest beaters. We need good judgement and reflection, not a stage show.
Have a wonderful holiday.