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I started reading your blog about a year and a half ago while I was living in England (grad school). Shortly after I began, I had a few very long conversations with my wife and decided to join the Marines. I am leaving for Officer Candidate School in Quantico a week from Sunday.We will indeed Max.
I just wanted to thank you for leading the charge in the information war. Having a clear picture of what goes on during our wars and why they matter played a key role in our decision, and certainly helped convince my wife to let me join. You guys keep up the good work, and please pray for me that I will complete OCS and for my wife that she will be OK without me for a few months.
You're about to embark on a Roller Coaster ride, with all the peaks and valleys that implies. If I've influenced you at all I can assure you you'll have days when you curse me for it. (Go ahead, I can take it.) But no matter how many years you give to the Marines I think in the end you'll be proud to have done something most only imagine themselves capable of.
I'll leave you with thanks, best wishes, and this passage from Teddy Roosevelt. You may have seen it before; you are certainly living up to it.
Let the man of learning, the man of lettered leisure, beware of that queer and cheap temptation to pose to himself and to others as a cynic, as the man who has outgrown emotions and beliefs, the man to whom good and evil are as one. The poorest way to face life is to face it with a sneer. There are many men who feel a kind of twister pride in cynicism; there are many who confine themselves to criticism of the way others do what they themselves dare not even attempt. There is no more unhealthy being, no man less worthy of respect, than he who either really holds, or feigns to hold, an attitude of sneering disbelief toward all that is great and lofty, whether in achievement or in that noble effort which, even if it fails, comes to second achievement. A cynical habit of thought and speech, a readiness to criticise work which the critic himself never tries to perform, an intellectual aloofness which will not accept contact with life's realities - all these are marks, not as the possessor would fain to think, of superiority but of weakness. They mark the men unfit to bear their part painfully in the stern strife of living, who seek, in the affection of contempt for the achievements of others, to hide from others and from themselves in their own weakness. The rôle is easy; there is none easier, save only the rôle of the man who sneers alike at both criticism and performance.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. Shame on the man of cultivated taste who permits refinement to develop into fastidiousness that unfits him for doing the rough work of a workaday world. Among the free peoples who govern themselves there is but a small field of usefulness open for the men of cloistered life who shrink from contact with their fellows. Still less room is there for those who deride of slight what is done by those who actually bear the brunt of the day; nor yet for those others who always profess that they would like to take action, if only the conditions of life were not exactly what they actually are. The man who does nothing cuts the same sordid figure in the pages of history, whether he be a cynic, or fop, or voluptuary. There is little use for the being whose tepid soul knows nothing of great and generous emotion, of the high pride, the stern belief, the lofty enthusiasm, of the men who quell the storm and ride the thunder. Well for these men if they succeed; well also, though not so well, if they fail, given only that they have nobly ventured, and have put forth all their heart and strength. It is war-worn Hotspur, spent with hard fighting, he of the many errors and valiant end, over whose memory we love to linger, not over the memory of the young lord who "but for the vile guns would have been a valiant soldier."
Good luck Max. I myself leave Monday for Army BCT, followed by OCS. See you on the other side.Posted by Centinel at January 17, 2006 11:08 PM
After reading the first paragraph of the quote, I’ve come to one conclusion—it’s an apt description of a liberal!Posted by Dogkees at January 17, 2006 11:19 PM
Good luck Max, and thank you. We will keep you and your wife in our thoughts and prayers.Posted by MaryAnn at January 17, 2006 11:29 PM
Oh MY Goodness!
Teddy R. describing the Democratic Party 100 years before its downfall! Imagine that.
God Bless You, Max. Take care.
Godspeed, Max. And thank you.Posted by Don Miguel at January 18, 2006 01:37 AM
Thank you, Max! And thank you, Mrs. Max! Have faith -- faith in each other, faith in your training... faith in your fellow Marines... and keep your Faith.Posted by Some Soldier's Mom at January 18, 2006 03:53 AM
Good luck to you Max!Posted by David Earney at January 18, 2006 06:31 AM
Wow... I'm floored. Thanks everyone. Keep up the good work GreyhawksPosted by Max at January 18, 2006 04:59 PM
1. Good luck Max!! Great profession.
2. Gads, Teddy was a wonderful writer. We've lost the knack of producing politicians who write like that. (Oh, I forgot about "It Takes a Village").