I have been writing editorials for more than 10 years and although I frequently challenge government institutions and other organizations, I generally remain very optimistic about this country. Our fundamentals have been weakened, but there are enough good Americans around who remember what it is to be an American. I include many people who came to this country and learned what it was like to be free and to grow financially, educationally and politically.
One of my first good friends in the Marine Corps was Dutch. We both were appearing before a board in California. I was being considered for a commissioning program and he was applying for citizenship. We were both put on hold and shipped to the Far East.
We returned to California a year later and he was selected for Officer Candidate School in Quantico. When he was commissioned and attending Basic School, my eldest sister was getting married in Baltimore and I could not attend so I asked him to go in my place. Everyone said that he was like a lost brother and joined right in with my large family. After he completed school, we met in California before he was assigned to another base. Years later, when I was an advisor in Vietnam in 1965, I received word that he had been killed in Vietnam while he was working as a correspondent. He died an American.
Dutch spoke French, German, Russian, Dutch, and English. His mother was absolutely gorgeous and spoke all of those languages as well as Italian and Spanish. They were in New Guinea at the start of World War II and spent the war in a prisoner camp. What a start to becoming a great American.
I believe that a significant trait of Americans is that they go out of their way to help others without expecting anything in return. When I returned from my first trip to Vietnam, we bought our first home in Virginia while I was assigned to The Basic School in Quantico. Our next-door neighbor had been in the Marines and worked in the area. Carl and Barbara did not have any children, but thoroughly enjoyed children. About 16 months later, I received orders to attend the Advanced Infantry School in Georgia with the understanding that following that I would be reassigned back to Vietnam. My wife was pregnant with our third child, so we decided the family would remain in Virginia while I went to school. Carl cut the grass and shoveled the snow for two years, and in the middle of the night took my wife to the hospital. We remained close friends. Sadly, Carl died from a heart attack about one week ago.
I am not alone when I recall so many people who helped me and my family throughout my lifetime. I hope that there are those who will recall when I assisted them during times of need. I often think of the fantastic troops that I had the privilege to command during my time in the Corps. As a group, they never disappointed me. I could tell stories about the troops that would fill books. In fact I have. This is why I remain optimistic. There is no country in the world or in past history that can compare with the United States. We are not perfect, but there are none better.
Donald Myers is a retired Marine Colonel and regular contributor to Hernando Today. He can be reached at email@example.com.