Earning a school desk

This is from an email recently forwarded to me and I thought it worthy enough to preserve on this site. The lesson here is that there are many ways to demonstrate to young people what freedom, and the sacrifices that preserve our freedom, is all about. It takes moral courage and the strength of your convictions to speak up and speak out as this teacher and the superindentent did. I would hope that our school authorities would do similarly, not cowering to the forces that speak falsely against such endeavors.

Hooray for this Teacher! We need more like her!
In September 2005, on the first day of school, Martha Cothren, a social
studies school teacher at Robinson High School in Little Rock, AR, did
something not to be forgotten.
On the first day of school, with permission of the school
superintendent, the principal and the building supervisor, she took all
of the desks out of the classroom.
The kids came into first period and there were no desks. They obviously
looked around and said, “Ms. Cothren, where’s our desk?” And she said,
“You can’t have a desk until you tell me how you earn them.”
They thought, “Well, maybe it’s our grades.”
“No,” she said.
“Maybe it’s our behavior.”
And she told them, “No, it’s not even your behavior.”
And so they came and went in the first period, still no desks in the
classroom. Second period, same thing, third period too. By early
afternoon television news crews had gathered in Ms. Cothren’s class to
find out about this crazy teacher who had taken all the desks out of
the classroom.
The last period of the day, Martha Cothren gathered her class. They
were at this time sitting on the floor around the sides of the room.
And she says, “Throughout the day no one has really understood how you
earn the desks that sit in this classroom ordinarily.” She said, “Now
I’m going to tell you.”
Martha Cothren went over to the door of her classroom and opened it,
and as she did 27 U.S. veterans, wearing their uniforms, walked into
that classroom, each one carrying a school desk. And they placed those
school desks in rows, and then they stood along the wall. And by the
time they had finished placing those desks, th ose kids, for the first
time I think perhaps in their lives, understood how they earned those
Martha said, “You don’t have to earn those desks. These guys did it for
you. They put them out there for you, but it’s up to you to sit here
responsibly to learn, to be good students and good citizens, because
they paid a price for you to have that desk, and don’t ever forget it.”

Friends, I think sometimes we forget that the freedoms that we have are
freedoms not because of celebrities. The freedoms are because of
ordinary people who did extraordinary things, who loved this country
more than life itself, and who not only earned a school desk for a kid
at the Robinson High School in Little Rock, but who earned a seat for
you and me to enjoy this great land we call home, this wonderful nation
that we better love enough to protect and preserve with the kind of
conservative, solid values and principles that made us a great nation.
“We live in the Land of the Free because of the brave.”

According to www.truthorfiction.com this is a true story first related by candidate Mike Huckabee during a speech in 2007. See http://www.truthorfiction.com/rumors/s/school-desks.htm for details.

Iraq and Vietnam: a comparison for the Gratification Generation

(first draft) The article referenced below is one of the most thoughtful pieces, loaded with facts and clear analysis, about why Iraq is NOT Vietnam and the trouble in America that will plague our society and threaten our freedom until we excise it from our collective psyche. It stimulated me to consider further what will affect this country far beyond the current war.

The Truth About Iraq and Vietnam

By Alan W. Dowd

FrontPageMagazine.com | 8/3/2007

When it became apparent after 9/11 that the US would strike back not just at
the tendrils of terror but also at the roots of terror—regimes like
Afghanistan’s Taliban and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq—I wondered if my
countrymen had the stomach and stamina for what was to come. This is,
after all, the land of fast food and FedEx, which helps explain why the
quarter-century before 9/11 was marked by a series of push-button,
almost-bloodless wars. In the shadow of Vietnam, each mini-war
conditioned the American people to expect less blood and less sacrifice
than the previous conflict. And this, in turn, conditioned the American
military to be overly cautious, leading inevitably to more low-risk,
low-impact wars. In Iraq and Afghanistan, that cycle has ended.

Dowd offers an excellent statistical analysis of the objective difference between the two and goes deeper to explain much of the reason why Americans have little stomach for what has turned into a real war rather than the mini-wars of the Clinton era. However, one factor remains unclear to me — one which is troubling in regard to America’s future ability not simply to defend itself, but to continue to thrive at all. First a point made well by Dowd.

Dowd wrote:

I wondered if my countrymen had the stomach and stamina for what was to
come. This is, after all, the land of fast food and FedEx ….

The “land of fast food and FedEx” speaks volumes about where we are today in America’s approach to life. Add to that the internet — indeed the source of this article that I find so fascinating about about which I write at 5AM in my bathrobe, blithley sipping coffee made in an “instant brew” coffee machine (Starbucks, just down the street and soon to be on every corner, was not yet open) — and we see the all-pervasive perspective of our society today.

What is the impact of having that sort of perspective that pervades the very core of our being as Americans? Look at the fundamental difference between Iraq and Vietnam: In Vietnam the country had no understanding of why we were there. In my two tours on the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk I sure never heard a good explanation. Yet in Iraq both the reason and purpose for our presence is clear notwithstanding the political bickering that clouds the issue for the personal gain of professional politicians. As Dowd points out: we were attacked, the retaliatory focus was (at least at one time) clear, and this country formally declared war albeit lacking a nation state to name on a piece of paper.

And still the country tires so easily once the laser-guided video show is over? Incredible! Absolutely incredible that our nation has become so corrupted with a self-absorbed populace that such is even possible. Compare that with the Greatest Generation as so eloquently described by Tom Brokaw. World War II brought victory, peace and unimagined prosperity on the shoulders of one generation. My parents were part of that generation, and part of that effort. My generation was then caught up in Vietnam, the 60’s, and the social/moral decline which, when combined with the Gratification Generation culture, has led us and those following into a fog from which we may not be able to emerge.

A not-so-fine state of affairs and upon whose shoulders does the blame fall? It falls on all of us. On the silent majority now so worried about “political correctness” that our tongues are frozen and incapable of speaking out. On the media where news and editorial opionion are hopelessly blurred. On the Gratification Generation so consumed in its self-interest that it barely has time for 30-second sound bites of news and information. On professional politicians who have co-opted the notion of the citizen-legislator fashioned by the Founding Fathers. And in sum, on the decline of patriotism — the love of God and Country — around which this nation formerly rallied.

We had, and we still have, more that binds us in common in America than divides us, if we would only recognize and appreciate it. Will the Gratification Generation allow that to come to the surface once again? I hope so.