A Real Man:
In 1961, a young African-American man, after hearing
President John F. Kennedy's challenge to, 'Ask not what your country can
do for you, but what you can do for your country,' gave up his student
deferment, left college in Virginia and voluntarily joined the Marines.
In 1963, this man, having completed his two years of
service in the Marines, volunteered again to become a Navy corpsman. (They
provide medical assistance to the Marines as well as to Navy personnel.)
The man did so well in corpsman school that he was the valedictorian and
became a cardiopulmonary technician. Not surprisingly, he was assigned to
the Navy's premier medical facility, Bethesda Naval Hospital, as a member
of the commander in chief's medical team, and helped care for President
Lyndon B. Johnson after his 1966 surgery.
For his service on the team, which he left in 1967, the
White House awarded him three letters of commendation.
What is even more remarkable is that this man entered
the Marines and Navy not many years after the two branches began to become
While this young man was serving six years on active
duty, Vice President Dick Cheney, who was born the same year as the
Marine/sailor, received five deferments, four for being an undergraduate
and graduate student and one for being a prospective father.
Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, both five
years younger than the African-American youth, used their student
deferments to stay in college until 1968. Both then avoided going on
active duty through family connections.
Who is the real patriot? The young man who interrupted
his studies to serve his country for six years or our three political
leaders who beat the system? Are the patriots the people who actually
sacrifice something or those who merely talk about their love of the
After leaving the service of his country, the young
African-American finished his final year of college, entered the seminary,
was ordained as a minister, and eventually became pastor of a large church
in one of America's biggest cities. Who was this man?
This man is Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the retiring pastor of
Trinity United Church of Christ.