Are you proud of your country?

A Veteran’s View

By Jim Daly

With all the news lately, there are many people in America that are not too proud of our country. But I am.

Our government is ruled by men and women who are not perfect, so the government is not perfect. Therefore, there are many things that happen in government that disturb many of us. But I learned from one particular experience during my Marine Corps career that when one doesn’t know all the details and/or the whole story, sometimes we can’t understand decisions made by others.

I was the Staff Sergeant shop head for 31 men who repaired four different systems on the squadron’s 12 airplanes. It was a normal day when my Division Officer came to me saying that we needed at least 10 airplanes ready for tomorrow at 6:30 a.m. and we only needed to worry about one of the systems (the ALQ-76 system). He did not explain and I didn’t ask. I directed my men to work with the usual priorities, which were that the ALQ-76 system is third in priority. We worked all night, and got all the systems on all the airplanes working 100 percent, except one. That one aircraft had three systems at 100 percent and the ALQ-76 system was at 92 percent. We ran out of time to get it to 100 percent.

At 6 a.m. the next morning, my Division Officer asked me if we had been able to get the ALQ-76 systems to 100 percent on all the planes and I explained what the situation was. He shook his head and then explained what the mission was. Our mission was to turn on the ALQ-76 system without any of the other systems, and just let them run.

He then gave me the worst butt chewing I ever got. He said: “Staff Sergeant Daly, I’m disappointed in you.” Then walked away to brief the aircrews. I was crushed.

It was weeks before I got over that, in fact, I’m not sure that I’m over it yet. I really respected that man, and wanted to earn his respect. I had not accepted his instructions and worked to satisfy them, I had assumed that normal was good. Had he explained the mission, I would have understood the importance of having the ALQ-76 systems all at 100 percent and would have accomplished that. But that was unusual. I had assumed, unconsciously, that I knew the situation. I did not, so the instruction/decision by the boss did not make the best of sense to me.

I changed my approach to “business” after that. I either accepted the instructions or decisions given or asked for more information at the time they were given. Another influence in my life was a philosophy course I had to take in college. My philosophy professor made the case that every man will do the best he can in all situations, given the information he has.

The decision makers in government certainly have more information on any of those specific topics than we mere civilians have. We cannot ask the decision makers in government for more information. We should just accept that they are doing the best they can in every situation. Do they know everything about a particular situation? Probably not. Are they doing their best? Probably so. I can’t believe that anyone in authority would or could purposefully attempt to ruin our country or government.

But they are imperfect men, which means they are sometimes ignorant, sometimes careless, sometimes selfish, and sometimes arrogant. But their intent is positive in the big picture. If we accepted that and used the energy we use to protest in a positive manner instead, our country would be better off.

How can we use our energy in a positive manner? I’m glad you asked.

On Grays Harbor there are lots of things you can do. There are many service organizations you could get involved in that provide positive and constructive benefits for our community, such as: Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Elks, Rotary, Lions, Little League, and Boy Scouts to name only a few. There are many nonprofits that help our community including: Greater Grays Harbor, Family Promise of Grays Harbor, Christmas for Kids, Union Gospel Mission, ARC, and Aberdeen Revitalization. And many churches have programs to help the community: Calvary Chapel, River of Life, City Church, and Amazing Grace Lutheran among many others. You could volunteer to help coach a sport at your school. Let your imagination lead you and do something you like. If you like to do something, there is a group that could use your time and energy in a productive way.

Thank you to those of you who are already involved. Don’t just complain about there not being enough help or involvement. Instead tell your friends what you are doing, why you are doing it, and what you get out of it. Talk about it all the time. That has proven the best way to recruit for anything. Invite others with interests similar to yours to join you.

Let’s all get involved in our communities and make this a better place to live. You may find that you enjoy it, and want to pursue involvement at higher levels, such as city, county, state, or national service. If so moved, please do. We need more dedicated people serving our country.

You can make your country something to be proud of. I am involved, and I am proud of our country.

My country.

And please remember: Many of our young men and women have sacrificed greatly around the world, to protect our country, our rights and freedoms, our allies, and the Flag of the United States of America. I am proud to have been one of them, and would gladly defend this great country again today or any day.

Jim Daly is a retired Marine Corps captain with a long involvement in the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He lives in Aberdeen.