MEMORIAL DAY MOMENT--We just had another epic effort by an army of Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Sea Scouts, Cub Scouts, Brownies, Daisies, and a host of other youth groups () to commemorate and honor those who served and even gave their lives so that we could debate, argue, work for and give it our all for Freedom and the American Dream.
Today I just witnessed a Boy Scout Court of Honor that honored the volunteer efforts of an amazing and praiseworthy group of young men and their parents as they honored four new Eagle Scouts into a select group of individuals dedicating their lives to service and to being an inspiration to others.
So as we stop to take a moment or two to remember our fallen and aging heroes who gave us our past and present liberty and opportunities, the bigger question is who will save our liberty and opportunities for future generations, particularly in our increasingly-divisive world?
The answer is obvious--the young men and women who've already shown a dedication and direction towards being model citizens of our nation and world:
1) They will be Trustworthy--their word is their bond, and their bond is their word. They will let their actions (or refraining from actions) be their final word. Their greatest achievements might lie in what they did, or what they said, without others ever knowing the truest and fullest extents of how they lived their lives, and who trusted in them to do the right thing.
2) They will be Loyal--to those who know them, they will be a source of reliable effort and commitment, and to those who don't know them they will have a reputation of being known to be a true friend and ally.
3) They will be Helpful--in a cynical, self-serving world, they will be a source of comfort to those who need assistance, and to those who have lost hope in the better nature of humanity. Even for those of different religious or political affiliations, they will be counted on to serve and provide relief to individuals who desperately need to know they aren't alone.
4) They will be Friendly--as our world devolves into snarls, they will respond with smiles. As our world devolves into closed fists, they will respond with open hands and handshakes. As our world devolves into angry shouts, they will respond with warm-hearted statements of bonding.
5) They will be Courteous--they will know that when you point one finger at others with accusations, hurtful words, and harmful actions, three more point right back at you. They will know that standing up for their beliefs does not mean disrespecting the beliefs of those in opposing religious and political affiliations.
6) They will be Kind--as anger, hearsay, and tales of self-aggrandizing fame and wealth compete for our beleaguered attention in our troubled news cycles, they will be "proof positive" that comfort, generosity, sympathy, understanding and moral support really do exist.
7) They will be Obedient--while too many of us given in to teenage rebellion, they will be the ones who are adult enough to know when "it's not about them" and to do what's right for society. They will respect rules, and recognize how terrible life is without those rules, and that the opportunity to change the rules always exists when the time is right.
8) They will be Cheerful--there are so many reasons to be anxious, sad, unhappy, and miserable, but they will be a source of optimism and joy. Sometimes it takes true courage to laugh in the face of overwhelming fear, or to find happiness in the face of overwhelming doubt...but that's the kind of courage and happiness they're blessed to still have.
9) They will be Thrifty--wealth is something that's extraordinarily difficult to achieve, and so extraordinarily easy to lose, so they won't waste either their gifts or their hard-fought earnings. One cannot help others unless one is self-sufficient, and one cannot save or restore the wants and needs of others unless one has the resources to commit to those endeavors...and they truly know that.
10) They will be Brave--the easy way out is usually the cowardly way out, and remains so no matter how much rationalization goes into pursuing that route. Their true courage will occur when it happens unknown to others, and when they don't get the credit for that courage. Too often the brave are the ones who get confused with "being a sucker", but courage is something we need more than ever.
11) They will be Clean--pureness and morality of mind, heart, and body doesn't come easy to most (if not all) of us, but the "Cleanliness is next to Godliness" holds true today as much as ever. Restraint and attention to detail brings out the best in us, but to those we rely on--and to those who we will rely on--they always strive for that best.
12) They will be Reverent--how one believes in a Higher Power is not nearly as important as that one does believe in a Higher Power, and that we are being watched, and judged, and measured. Even the respect in others who believe, and who with kindness and peaceful actions show that belief, will be the ultimate test that our future leaders and defenders can pass with flying colors.
Inasmuch as we too-often decry the problems and shortcomings of youthful generations, we also can look forward to those who will defend us from the indiscretions of youth...and of course, from our own adult indiscretions.
Happy Memorial Day, and God Bless America!
(Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D. is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud father and husband to two cherished children and a wonderful wife. He is also a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He was co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chaired the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us . The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)