Matt Krauss: Young soldiers and America’s progress

This commentary is by Matt Krauss, of Stowe. He is a retired state employee and former state legislator.

Vermonters are bombarded on a regular basis that race relations are terrible and that we are unable to form a cohesive group working towards a common, promising goal. Over the last week in January, activities took place in North Carolina and Georgia proving that is a false narrative. The events were actually quite routine, but the fact they were so routine made them all the more extraordinary.

Matt Krauss

On a flight from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Columbus, Georgia, to attend an Army graduation ceremony the first eye opening event took place. Three very young soldiers sat in the first row of the airplane. Based upon their name tags and their physical appearance they might be described as a Black and two Hispanic soldiers. The remainder of the passengers looked like a typical group of Americans you would see in any southern restaurant — most older, some younger, black, white, Hispanic, Asian American, etc. An ordinary group of Americans, but what some of them did made them special. As they came through the plane perhaps six or seven passengers said to the soldiers in the first row, “Thank you for your service.” It was a heartfelt expression and a genuine appreciation for their service to America. Can we comprehend what that simple activity represents? From the southern shame of Bull Connor, fire hoses and police dogs to young minority soldiers sitting in the front of the airplane and other passengers thanking them for their service to America. We need to observe, report and celebrate America’s growth, progress and patriotism.

Sometimes in Vermont the warrior ethos and unashamed patriotism are not often displayed or appreciated. But there are many Vermonters who quietly fly an American flag, proudly display patriotic bumper stickers on their vehicles, and have sons, daughters and relatives serving in the military.

Let’s not allow the loudest voices in the public arena to be proclaiming division, hostility between the races, and damnation of Americans and American ideals.

The 178 soldiers who officially completed their infantry training that Friday morning were from around America. Maine, New Hampshire and New Jersey were in attendance. The top performing soldier was a young white soldier from Michigan. The top drill sergeant was a Hispanic from Alaska. A glance of the graduates showed Black and Asian American soldiers. The proud family sitting behind us was speaking Spanish to a grandmother.

At the graduation ceremony the battalion commander gave the closing speech to the graduates of Echo Company. The field upon which they marched and graduated was named Daniel Inouye field. He was veteran of World War II, Medal of Honor recipient, and was grievously wounded in battle. He later became a U.S. senator from Hawaii. The field contained soil from famous infantry battlefields throughout our proud history. The graduates had a real and tangible connection with previous generations of soldiers who defended our nation.

Families, friends, and visitors numbered several hundred individuals. The leader asked the veterans in attendance to please stand and be recognized; they did, some a little slower than others. The applause given these aging veterans brought some tears.

Twenty-two weeks before, the graduating soldiers received a military haircut and began basic training. Love of country drove many to volunteer. They are changed for the better by their common experiences. They were more trim and in shape than most Americans. Their language was more respectful towards their elders and showed pride in their accomplishments. They learned to make their own beds and did their own laundry, some for the first time ever.

The last act on graduation day was the return of individual cell phones. The soldiers had voluntarily surrendered their cell phones 22 weeks prior. Can you imagine anyone voluntarily handing over their cell phone for 22 minutes or 22 days, let alone 22 weeks?

Following the graduation ceremony was time for collective laughter, joy, shared stories, friendship, hugs and introductions of family. Within an hour most of the new soldiers boarded buses headed to their first duty assignment.

The two-day graduation celebration offered a continuing and inspiring story and a visual representation of service to the nation — and the true melting pot of America. It’s something unconsciously ignored or forgotten by many Americans.

America is much better than those who run down our nation and its ideals. We would be wise to ignore those who constantly complain about our failings.

Oh, I forgot to mention one of those graduating infantry soldiers was from Lamoille County Vermont — my youngest son.

Image courtesy of U.S. Army

15 thoughts on “Matt Krauss: Young soldiers and America’s progress

  1. Do not drink the Kool-Aid. This is not your father’s military anymore. Do not enlist! You will be used not to defend the U.S. Constitution but to subvert it. Make no mistake you will be joining the tyrannical New World Order military. Your enemy will be represented to be domestic not foreign. You will be used to oppress any patriotic dissent and protect Socialist tyranny now in full control the country.

  2. Warmth of this story lingers. Nicely done sir 😀 Yes Mr. Krauss – great story and slice o’ Americana – we need more heartwarming uplifting stories of American patriotism and who we are as a people and many thanks I for one needed this.

  3. Nice story Mr. Krauss. Our professional service force should be thanked for their service whenever we civilian’s encounter any service member. To anyone as disingenuous as Mr. Gregory and his ilk, I just say that there rarely is a totally righteous war and yes, too often, our young people lose their lives when they should not have. However, this should never be a reason to not have a viable standing force to protect our interests when necessary, something Mr Gregory ignores or isn’t intelligent enough to understand.
    As a Vietnam veteran coming back home after my 4 year duty overseas, I never got thanks for my service – none of us did back then. Frankly, it was weird and disappointing.
    When our country went to an all-volunteer force I thought it was a mistake and I still do. What I wish we had done was to change the system where every 19 year-old person would be conscripted for an initial one year period – even those with disabilities capable of contributing. This new force would work in municipalities, hospitals, government centers and many other service areas. Those that found they liked the life would then sign up for professional service as we do now. This would have a number of benefits. One would be the opportunity for all our citizenry to have a common American experience and, over time, create a stronger association to our country. The second benefit would be that our kids would get an education in many different disciplines that would help ground them for their future, even if they didn’t continue with whatever they did when they service was completed. Third is that, like Franklin’s CCC corps, a lot of stuff could get done in our country, I’m pretty sure there would have been even more benefits, but you get my point.
    Having said all the above, sadly, it will never happen. We are too entrenched in our professional service model to change.

    • Good on ya Gary 😀 Best thing I’ve heard all day. All fantastic ideas if for no other reason than to ground our youth in what it means to be an American citizen and to serve others in a professional atmosphere. For once we agree sir – more of this pls

    • What we have now is the equivalent of the Praetorian Guard– people with very heavy weaponry whose paycheck is dependent on keeping the government extremely mindful of them. The military trains them by breaking down their personality in boot camp (hence, all the fraternity pledge week-level of debasement and humiliation) to rebuild the rookie as a useful cog.

      This training includes politicization, so they identify with military metastization, up to and including a coup. It was different when 80% of the people in service wanted out.

      And as for not being thanked back in the day, since everybody (everybody without clout, that is) served, it was no big deal to come back home three years later. Everybody knew you’d most likely be coming back, as 90% of them were in non-combat MOS’s. However, whenever somebody thanks me for my service, I tell them to thank me for letting myself be used. Educate, educate, educate!

      • Au Contraire Chuck …what wehave now is a Maoist Cultural Revolution..kindly wake up and smell the Fogers crystals sir

  4. It sounds as though Mr. Krause is neither a Vietnam veteran nor familiar with Congressional Medal of Honor winner (twice!) Marine general Smedley Butler’s service.

    I am of that last generation that was subject to the absolute certainty of the Draft. No lottery numbers for us, and if we were not connected to the upper class of the towns we lived in, no strings available to be pulled to keep us out. We served ably but often unwillingly, hewing to the tasks and the rules in the knowledge that our reward would be to get out alive and back to a real life. Some of us, like Mike, the kid who grew up next door to me, left body parts behind in ‘Nam; in his case, it was one-third of his brain. and we weren’t sent there to defend democracy or America’s borders; we were sent because Secretary of State John Foster Dulles had moved to protect the interest of the corporate clients of his old law firm, Cromwell and Sullivan, who wanted to move in on the tin, rubber and fossil fuel resources the French were losing in Indo-China.

    “Thank you for your service” fools the complimenter into thinking the serviceman/woman is defending America in Korea, Lebanon, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, ad nauseam, when actually– as General Butler pointed out, in every one of those wars, our troops have simply been the enforcers for corporate racketeers. He wrote a book about how it worked after he retired, “War is a Racket.”

    It is more proper to compliment a member of the armed forces by saying, “Thank you for letting yourself be used.” And it would be most proper to hear it come from the lips of a CEO of one of those racketeers.

    • Sore loser much Chuck…if ya can’t take the heat may I suggest ya leave the TNR kitchen lol…Dem Echochambers Seven DaysVt, VPR, VTGraveDigger and local Democrat Party websites all have comment sections on FakeBook…seems like you would be happier with your Marxist ilk…unless you’re just another of the several DemMarxist trolls here on TNR who come only to litter the comment section with obnoxous drivel

        • Selfrighteous much Chuck…It’s not up to me or any one person to make America safe…*you* and DemocratMarxist cult members are the last ppl in America to talk about safety or “Making America Safe” little man

      • Bored with VPO echochamber Chuck…not much fun to continually restate the obvious is it…along with typical hate directed @ the right pretty clear from the Dems coming here stench is nauseating even for the Communists such as yourself sir.

  5. “Sometimes in Vermont the warrior ethos and unashamed patriotism are not often displayed or appreciated.” Unfortunately, for a lot of Vermont that heritage has been overtly replaced with that of the “social justice warrior” and anti-Americanism. The “safe space” of a foxhole to protect from mortars landing nearby has been replaced with a room full of people who all share the same “worldview” and shame anyone who disagrees. Maintaining race baiting and COVID lockdowns and mandates are some of the last refuges of authoritarianism of those who run the political party which opposed emancipation, established Jim Crow laws and founded the KKK. Can you imagine the mass psychosis if the average Ummerican were asked to give up their cellphone for 22 weeks?
    Thanks for bringing in some of the view from outside Vermont, Matt.

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