Cursing for valor
Gary Caruso | Friday, November 14, 2014
What better way to honor our nation’s veterans than with a multiplicity of celebratory events? We are concluding an almost perfect week by reviewing stolen documents from traitor Edward Snowden, listening to the betraying loose lips of former Navy SEAL Robert O’Neill brag about killing Osama bin Laden and attending a star-studded concert on the Washington Mall featuring misogynistic rapper Eminem curse throughout his freestyle rap verses during the final songs of the holiday evening. It was nearly the perfect way to honor our fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, neighbors, friends, cousins, aunts and uncles or sisters and brothers who butchered their psyches, forfeited their limbs and sacrificed their existences for our freedom. A more perfect week might have included a protestor burning an American flag on the U.S. Capitol lawn.
Our nation is the envy of the globe simply because our governing system tolerates the unthinkable: equality, dissent, expression and existence. From our founding days through yesterday, our citizenry has been a diverse mix of thought and expression braided together through conflict and consensus. We are further at our best when our service members act honorably at all times. My father — a Fifth Army, Corp II sergeant who served in World War II with Gen. George S. Patton in Northern Africa and ultimately fought for three bloody months on the Anzio beachhead in Italy — oftentimes would simply curl his lips and raise his eyebrows at disagreeable encounters.
My dad would have appreciated the HBO, Starbucks and Chase Corp. sponsored first-of-its-kind Concert for Valor. He would have appreciated the concert’s intent to raise awareness for issues affecting veterans for he often suffered the effects of war quietly after his tour of duty. However, he would have been appalled at Eminem’s obscene language and lyrical messages like punching singer Lana Del Ray in the face “like Ray Rice.” Yet, my father always took pride in noting that Eminem’s singing style could only occur because of my father’s service.
Too often many among us ridicule the misfit, stifle an unusual thought or are unwilling to adjust for the oversights of the past. During the Vietnam War, while I was home one summer from Notre Dame but faced the possibility of a military induction, television news accounts featured young Berkley radicals burning their draft cards along with American flags. My dad, having served in the Army as well as loving every nuance that flag represented, curled his lips while rolling his eyes and then smiled at me. He said, “If it wasn’t for me, they couldn’t do that.”
Honoring our veterans requires that those who fought remain true to their fellow veterans. My office desk is nearly surrounded by Homeland Security colleagues who served in the Marine Corps and Navy but retired to become Federal law enforcement officers. I asked each of them what they thought of the professed Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden killer and former Navy SEAL Team Six member, Rob O’Neill. The Montana native broke his code of silence to tell his story of the weeks leading up to the May 2011 raid on bin Laden’s compound. He concluded, “It would be irresponsible of me not to give everyone else closure.”
I asked if he was a traitor or simply a betrayer? To a person they said he betrayed past, current and future SEALs when he decided to break the elite unit’s code of silence and aversion for self-promotion. A former Navy intelligence officer noted SEALs consider themselves “quiet professionals” who do not seek glory for missions. Navy command suggests that “team-mates” who breach the “ethos” of silence about their missions are “selfish.”
In 2011, when another SEAL, Matt Bissonnette — writing under the pen name Mark Owen — indicated that he shot bin Laden, Navy Command officers responded with a letter, in which they wrote, “Selfish disregard for our core values in return for public notoriety and financial gain, only diminishes otherwise honorable service, courage and sacrifice. Any real credit to be rendered is about the incredible focus, commitment, and teamwork of this diverse network and the years of hard work undertaken with little individual public credit. It is the nature of our profession.”
Honoring our veterans also mandates that our governmental leaders protect our service members by upholding the highest lawful standards during war and peace. On Wednesday in Istanbul, Turkey, members of the leftist Turkish Youth Union assaulted three U.S. Navy sailors. The gang attempted to place bags over the sailors’ heads to protest American “imperialism” in the Middle East. Placing bags over their heads is in retaliation to a 2003 event when U.S. forces put bags over the heads of Turkish troops during their detention in northern Iraq. That move incensed Turkish society and remains an open wound today.
My perfect week would have included my dad living again and reading about talkative SEALs, Turkish youth attacks and upcoming first-of-its-kind concerts honoring veterans. The most perfect week would have my father curling his lips and rolling his eyes for just a moment more with me while watching Eminem cursing for valor.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.