One of my best friends, John Guthrie, is ninety-three years old. He was a platoon leader in World War II. His soldiers were engineers. He had a college degree. He came out of the steel mills of Pennsylvania. Many of the men in his platoon could not read. He was a leader, a problem solver, a thinker.
We have very little and a great deal in common. He is a dyed in the wool Republican. I am a yellow dog Democrat. We each believe strongly in the worth of our political parties. But we care more for the good of the country. We could argue without hatred, disagree without disregard for one another’s others values, and walk away without feeling diminished, or denigrate d knowing full well that the problems would be there week.
I was a barrack Marine not a blood Marine or a mud Marine. I did not serve in time of war. John fought in World War II. He knows the full meaning of sacrifice. He and I both know that our very future is held in the grasp of our educational institutions. We as a nation can no longer thrive or survive in a nation inhabited with poor readers who do not know the Constitution, who no longer believe in the worth of their dreams, and who turn away from the future fearful of failure and a diminished standard of living.
John at ninety-three is still leading, still thinking, still problem solving. I shall never live that long, or be that strong, or be as bright, or as industrious as my friend John, but I shall continue to think and to speak in defense of those ideas and ideals that encourage young people to seek the best education possible, to believe in the potential and the promise of our political system, and to respectfully honor the sacrifices and services of all the John Guthrie’s this country has produced for they represent the highest ideals of our democracy.