My nephew is joining the US Army


In acknowledging the departure of my nephew Justin Riche to his basic training for the US Army, I have a few thoughts to share. First, to Justin, you are continuing on a path that has been taken by many people, including two that cannot directly acknowledge you today, so I am going to do my best to acknowledge you on their behalf: your Grandfather James David Hunn and, his father-in-law, your Great Grandfather Robert M. Fox.

You knew the first, but you never knew the second. I did. That is why I am writing this and sharing it with you.

I called him “Pop-o.” What can I tell you about him?

To me, he seemed unusually calm and quiet. I remember when I was about 6 six years old, sitting with him on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico at Tampa Bay as we caught fish and crabs (okay, he caught them while I asked a lot of questions and slowed him down).

I do not recall exactly how long he was in the military, but I think it was for a very long time. He saw lots of change in his life. For instance, there was a time when military veterans were celebrated very widely, but also a time when there was a lot of criticism and even shame about certain military operations.

In fact, there were times that I have criticized certain operations. Criticisms, including mine, may be based on a limited (partial) understanding plus fear.

In the early 1990s, I was in college about your same age and there was some brief talk of a new military draft. I had been interested in attending the Air Force Academy, yet I was scared about getting drafted (and risking the dangers of combat).

The military is not for everyone. Some people would not get approved. Some people would not meet the basic standards.

For instance, some people are scared of criticism. Some fear could be intelligent, right, but some are so scared of most any criticism that they flee from it (or argue with it in terror). By the way, that is why I was probably not a good fit for the military.

Others are scared of criticism in a different way. They experience a compulsion to prove their critics wrong, like to excel at rebelling. I can relate to that one as well and, in fact, I think you might know a little bit about that reaction yourself. 😉

Some, however, simply respect criticism. Criticism (like sincere and passionate condemnation) can be the expression of someone’s distress and repulsion, like as a test of someone else’s confidence and stability. Criticism can also be valuable guidance and extremely practical redirection.

So, I mentioned that I have criticized some military operations. I probably even criticized some of the operations conducted by people like your father. Again, criticism may be based on a limited understanding (like mixed with some misunderstanding), plus fear.


United States Capitol

United States Capitol (Photo credit: Jack in DC)

War involves physical power as well as deception. The same is true of martial arts, team sports, and even religion. For instance, the Santa Claus myth is presented by elder generations as a deception to influence the behavior of little kids, who have far less physical power than the elders (like toddlers can’t even reach up to cookie jar on the counter top or see inside the cupboards, much less open the cupboards or get items out of them).

Different things can be seen by different people. Toddlers can’t even see the countertop without a stool. Further, even when looking at a single, identical sight, different interpretations are also possible.

So, here’s what people like my dad may have known that I did not (until I did): the US is a global empire. The economic affluence of our civilians rests on the military influence of our government. (Note, to whom it may concern: the difference between a worthless piece of paper and the most popular currency in the world today- namely, the Federal Reserve’s “US Dollar” Note – is the influence of the US Military.)

The masses of civilians in the US are never going to comprehend the full importance of the US Military. They will criticize what they do not fully understand based on fear.

In fact, that kind of criticism can be expected and even cultivated. If I was 6 years old criticizing my grandfather (“Pop-o”) about how he should not have done things the way that he did, that would be funny and ridiculous, right? We would call that child arrogant and naive and seeking attention, right?

Well, some people get over that phase sooner than others. I took quite a while, but many seem to me to be going much more slowly than I did.

So, you will be criticized, no matter what. If you do nothing, you will be criticized. Anything you do, someone will criticize that, whether openly or indirectly.

In fact, people who benefit from your activities in the US military may criticize you instead of thanking you. That says something about them, doesn’t it?

It takes bravery to be open to facing anger- or even to intentionally guide other people’s anger. Expressing criticism can definitely lead to people being angry with you (though so can lot of other things).

I invite you to be eager to receive criticism and stingy in extending it. The people whose criticism I have found most valuable do not push it, but will simply offer it- perhaps even only after I request it of them or even pay them for it. Be ware of sacrificing your criticism on issues that you do not fully appreciate. Your criticism is a sign of what you value.

I criticized my father occasionally (not often). He generally remained calm- neither resentful nor defensive (AKA guilty, scared).

In my mid-20s, shortly after you were born, I had left the Southeast to go to the West Coast. When I got back to Florida, my dad eventually told me quite calmly that I needed to move out or pay rent. By the way, that did not fit my preferences.

Was my father willing to make me angry even at the risk of drawing my criticism? Yes.

In fact, it is hard to imagine a parent who never says no to children- like at the toy store. Imagine me at age 6 standing in a toy store asking Pop-o to buy me all the toys that I was excited about from watching TV commercials.

Would he say no to me? Would he “cave in” if I got upset and had a tantrum? Would I be punished or criticized for my outburst?

An “ideal” grandfather might buy a lot of things for a grandchild, but probably not just based on the demands of the child. Who is in charge? Who has the power? Who deserves respect?

I “simply knew” not to bother with trying to manipulate my grandfather (Pop-o). He probably had been in the military for a few decades already and, in the ten or so years of my life that he was still alive, my psychological warfare techniques were no match for his.

Eventually, of course, people may live long enough to get old and feeble-minded. Some are never all that smart in the first place.

Again, some may criticize you. On behalf of them, thank you for what you will be doing to promote the interests even of people who may criticize you (out of jealousy?).


English: The American Legion Plot in the Enid ...

English: The American Legion Plot in the Enid Cemetery consists of 48 graves of military veterans. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Justin, you and I are not “blood.” But you are “blood” to J.D. Hunn and R.M. Fox and those two veterans did more for me than any other two men I have ever known. So, on behalf of those two veterans, I salute you.

Further, I do not just salute you. I salute them and all other US military personnel.

I even respect veterans who have fought in opposition to the US, but I do not salute them. I just respect them.

Your father, I respect as a person and I salute as a veteran. Your elder brother, I respect as a person and I salute as a soldier.

In your life, especially in the military, you will have the opportunity to learn about your own emotions including as it relates to “authority figures.” Emotions are not always convenient and not always a priority, but they do have unique value. Physical power is connected to emotional power.

There are people who love you who may be unable to say so (including some still alive). Literally, they may simply be unable. That says nothing about you.

We love you. James David Hunn loves you. Robert M. Fox never even met you and I know he loves you, too. You’ve already made them proud and you will continue to do so.

You are strong. You are smart. And, so is everyone else training to get in to special forces. But they don’t have your heritage, including from your grandfather and your great grandfather.

You are not supposed to fully understand this message. This is not just about understanding something. Just get the message. When you are a grandfather yourself, you will still be learning about the power of this message. Keep learning. This is that powerful of a message that it takes time to digest.

For me, there are some countertops that I am just recently starting to be able to see. I do not expect you to see them yet. You might even criticize me for mentioning certain details of my perspective- or how I share what I share. That is all okay too. One day, you will see some of the same countertops that I see. I keep learning new things as I go, too.

Things look different from the mountaintop. Other perspectives are not wrong, but there is no way to see things from the perspective of the mountaintop except from the mountaintop. You are on your way up the mountain and, even if you did not before, now you know it.

Have fun at basic training and beyond. We love you. Millions of people benefit from what you will be doing, most of whom have absolutely no idea and never will. Thank you. I salute you. We salute you.

by J.R. Hunn
and on behalf of
J.D. Hunn, &
R.M. Fox



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