Our story this issue on Demetries Grimes, a decorated Navy commander, who is running for Congress from Florida is in the long line of American military heroes who are propelled to public office either by their own ambition or the momentum of their fame.
General George Washington, who led the Colonials to victory, was the only man the fledgling country could trust to be its first president. They wanted to make him king and call him Majesty, but he refused. He did serve his country, however, in majesty and his towering prestige is what kept it on an even keel in those first turbulent years of its growing pains.
Andrew Jackson was another general elevated to the highest office. He was a champion of the common man and he showed how high a poor-born son of the nation could rise. Unfortunately, he was also a racist.
Ulysses Grant was another general who served two terms in office as president, perhaps not with wisdom, but certainly with compassion. He was a champion of civil rights after the Civil War which he helped win, and he was plainspoken and a champion of the common man without being a bigot.
Dwight Eisenhower, of course, was probably the most powerful general in World War II (if not in history) and yet, as president, he resisted armed conflicts and defused the confrontations of the Cold War and he also resisted the importunities of the military-industrial complex to grow ever larger. His Secretary of State, General George Marshall, was the man who saved Europe with his Marshall Plan.
John F. Kennedy was a genuine war hero who suffered from his injuries the rest of his life. Ronald Reagan played several military heroes in the movies and he did confront Mikhail Gorbachev, which led to the demise of the Iron Bloc. Jimmy Carter was a submariner and brilliant naval officer. George H. W. Bush was a flying ace and one of our youngest war heroes.
So there is precedent for American military men (who knows how many women might have qualified) serving their country well, and having the mettle to save their country in time of peril. As Commander Grimes has said: “For more than twenty-five years as a naval officer I went into harm’s way to serve all Americans. As a military officer, I honored my oaths, served all, and left no one behind.”
Certainly this country, and every country, could use a man or woman who could back up their claims of leadership with a record of leadership, who could back up their credentials with true service, and who doesn’t merely talk about courage but has truly demonstrated it in action.
And certainly this country, and every country, could use a man or woman who saw armed might, the might of our armies and navies and air force in action, and forbore from using that might, but instead had the wisdom to understand how we all need to work together in the common good of our common planet.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to elect a man or woman like that to public office?