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By Geoff Metcalf

April 26, 2004

"It is not the critic who counts, not the one who points out how the strong man stumbled or how the doer of deeds might have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred with sweat and dust and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, if he wins, knows the triumph of high achievement; and who, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat."
   --Teddy Roosevelt

Duty, Honor, Country are more than just words. They are a foundation of principles� principles that are more important than fame, fortune, or life. It is the same stuff that compelled the framers to write, "�with firm reliance on the protection of the divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."

Much is being written about the tragic death of former NFL star Pat Tillman. That's a good thing. However, Pat Tillman was not the Lone Ranger�although he WAS a Ranger. That too is a good thing�that eagles do occasionally flock�and that when they flock they flock to places like Fort Benning, Quanitico, Fort Bragg and Coronardo.

There is a lot of quoting going on in the wake of "Tilly's" death. One of my favorites is General Barry McCaffrey, "As a company commander in combat . . . crawling around in the mud with an enemy machine gun hammering over my head . . . the crotch ripped out of my uniform . . . constipated . . . hungry . . . huge bug bites under my eyes .. .exhausted with days of intermittent sleep . . . I could always comfort myself by saying . . . 'it could be worse . . . I could be back in Ranger School,'''

Those who have survived the testosterone rich, sleep deprivation, physical exhaustion and mental challenge of Fort Benning's resort for masochists will understand�those who don't won't.

What some see as Pat Tillman's sacrifice of fame and fortune for martial hardship and anonymity seems odd. It isn't odd�it is a personification of Duty, Honor, Country. We are a nation blessed that what some would deride as an anachronism has morphed into a new 'new breed'.

Owen West was a Marine officer who 'plays' at extreme sports. He was a Force Recon Marine in the first Gulf War and subsequently a civilian working at Goldman Sachs on Wall Street making large bank. When the balloon went up in Iraq he left Wall Street to be a Marine where Marines were needed. He didn't have to (or maybe he did) but to Owen, like 'Tilly' and his brother and hundreds like them, Semper Fidelis isn't just a slogan or closing time tag line�it is a principle which is the essence of what and who they are.

Anyone who has ever worn any uniform and served should be proud of brothers like Owen West, Pat and Kevin Tillman and hundreds of thousand others.

Part of the 'Ranger Creed' says, "Never shall I fail my comrades. I will always keep myself mentally alert, physically strong and morally straight and I will shoulder more than my share of the task whatever it may be. One-hundred-percent and then some."


Charles M. Province wrote a poem called 'The Soldier' in which he notes it is the solider who has given us freedoms we routinely take for granted.

Jack Hoban (another warrior) synthesized his seventeen year apprenticeship with Dr. Robert Humphrey into 'The Warrior Creed' in which he notes,

"Wherever I go, everyone is a little bit safer because I am there. Wherever I am, anyone in need has a friend. Whenever I return home, everyone is happy I am there."

In Thelen Paulk's "Visitor From The Past" The last line is "IS THIS STILL THE LAND OF THE FREE AND HOME OF THE BRAVE?"
You damn betcha!
9/11 and the belatedly acknowledged war on terrorism did not just spark an epiphany for Dennis Miller�and it did not just awaken a spark in Owen West, Pat and Kevin Tillman.

We are not perfect�but despite our warts, blemishes, tragic flaws, and myriad shortcomings, we remain the best country on the planet.

Don't you dare ever forget, "It is the soldier, who salutes the flag, who serves under the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag."

Sua Sponte!

� 2004 Geoff Metcalf - All Rights Reserved

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"Geoff Metcalf is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host for TALK AMERICA and a veteran media performer. He has had an eclectic professional background covering a wide spectrum of radio, television, magazine, and newspapers. A former Green Beret and retired Army officer he is in great demand as a speaker. Visit Geoff's Web Site: While you're at it - pick up a copy of Geoff's latest book!  E-mail:






"Duty, Honor, Country are more than just words. They are a foundation of principles� principles that are more important than fame, fortune, or life."