This past weekend I joined hundreds of other parents in witnessing a basic training graduation of somewhere around 250 Sea Cadets at Great Lakes Naval Base.
The Sea Cadets were created in 1962 by Congress as a way and means to teach and educate young Americans about the Navy.
From its website, the Sea Cadets state that:
“Today’s U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps continues to further the image of our maritime services by adhering to a standardized training program designed to:
- Develop an interest and ability in seamanship and seagoing skills
- Instill virtues of good citizenship and strong moral principles in each cadet
- Demonstrate the value of an alcohol-free, drug-free and gang-free lifestyle
- Expose cadets to the prestige of public service and a variety of career paths through hands-on training with our nation’s armed services”
This much I know to be true about what I witnessed this past weekend – America is in good hands.
My 16-year-old son, Owen, is a member of the Sea Cadets. He is also a member of his high school’s JROTC program.
He, along with the hundreds of other fine young men and women who participate in these programs, represent another testament to an American nation that is far from the decline we might be inclined to see from today’s popular media.
Both programs are rooted in military tradition, this much is true. However, neither program, today, seeks to indoctrinate young people into the virtues of choosing a military life as their career path.
That being said it many of those who participate in these programs do make that choice.
And, America is a greater country because of their service and sacrifice on behalf of a grateful nation.
Watching the hundreds of young men and women coming into the huge hall where they would begin their graduation it was evident that the parents and families in that room were proud of the effort each of their cadets had put into their basic training program.
For nearly two hours we waited in anticipation of the raising of a massive door and see our Cadets walk through the door.
They did not disappoint.
In nearly perfect marching they filed in, Division by Division, until they stood before the assembled audience who looked at them with pride, awe and appreciation for what they had accomplished.
In the face of each young man and woman was the face of America’s future.
One that isn’t seeing its best days in the rearview mirror.
It’s a nation where young men and women of every color, shape, size, religion, gender and persuasion gathered from different points across the country to share in an experience that further strengthened them and honed their sense personal and community achievement.
These are the faces of America’s future. They are the energy, the passion and the spirit that we celebrate today on America’s birth day.
Our Independence Day was not forged by a piece of paper but on the promise and purpose of those who felt that freedom and liberty was something worth dying for and, ultimately, worth living for.
We are 241 years old today. We are a young nation. Our history, while rich and laden with profound impact on the world around us, is only now just being made.
More of that American history will be made by the young men and women, including my own son, I watched this weekend at Great Lakes Naval Base.
The world is not for the faint of heart. It needs young men and women who are prepared to step up to serve.
To serve in every way in every part of American life in any way they can.
We need leaders in America. Leaders for our future.
We need people who will build our cities. Protect our neighborhoods. Heal our sick. Teach our young. Feed our hungry. Bind us together.
Protect our nation and defend our freedom.
Like every parent in that room my heart was full of love and pride in my son.
I want his future to be everything he wants it to be.
Standing in that room. Cheering wildly for him, his Division and the other Divisions in that great hall, I believe it will be.
He is my son.
He is a Sea Cadet.
He is an American.
On this day of our nation’s birth I wish him and all of America “Fair winds and following seas.”