Sunday, 4 October 2009
By: Lieutenant Colonel Allen B West (US Army, Ret)
Greetings friends here in South Florida, I am writing you this evening to draw your attention to something that you will not hear about in the media.
On this day there were several events which illuminate what leadership is all about. This morning a group supporting our men and women serving overseas in combat held an event called “Walk in Their Boots”. Up in Deerfield Beach there was the 13th Annual “Dunn’s Run” to benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Broward County, a very worthy event to help kids in South Florida.
Finally, this afternoon in downtown Ft. Lauderdale, the South Florida Tea Party group held a rally featuring Lloyd Marcus and the American Liberty Tour. It was attended by many concerned citizens worried about the direction of the ever growing federal government and wasteful spending in Washington DC.
Congressman Ron Klein attended the “Walk in Their Boots” event and was met by constituents that were not pleased with his representation. They challenged him on recent votes and demanded he address their concerns reference support to Israel and the healthcare debate. Klein was visibly taken aback and had nothing to say to these on the spot inquiries. Unfortunately for Congressman Klein, this event was not held with ACORN and SEIU teams present, was not invitation-only, nor had his staff “pre-screened” the crowd. A telephone conference call this was not and Klein had to face the concerns of his constituents for the first time this year.
What Klein did do when approached by voters? He left. The walkers began their short 3 mile trek in support of our troops and Klein disappeared when it was apparent the photo opportunity he was seeking turned into a chance for his employers, YOU the voters, to ask him questions about what he stands for and to explain his votes. So let me understand, Ron Klein shows at an event dedicated to empathy for our men and women in combat yet he refused to participate? Does Congressman Klein believe he doesn’t have to answer to the voters in District 22?
What is obvious is that Congressman Ron Klein only saw this as an opportunity for a photo-op. Soldiers know when the going gets tough, they push forward in the face of adversity and succeed. Politicians like Klein, however, avoid facing their constituents and prefer the company of Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Barney Frank rather than the voters from their own home districts. Is this what we have come to regard as “leadership” in America? In 2010, both America and District 22 deserve better.
Contrary to Ron Klein, I attended the Dunn’s Run event and signed up for the 5 mile race. The race sponsor, Jim Dunn, had previously spoken with me and asked if I would carry an American flag. He said that he would have the small flags, but my response was that I wanted a full size flag. I cherish any opportunity to carry the banner of our great nation, it is a true honor. Carrying that flag during a 5 mile run allowed me to inspire the runners and bystanders and unite us all as Americans. While running the race with the Stars and Stripes in my hands, I was humbled thinking of our men and women who stand guard in distant lands representing freedom around the world.
Afterwards, many of my fellow South Florida runners came up to me and expressed their appreciation seeing their American Flag. What was best of all, were the young children along the race route who said, “Mommy, there goes our flag”.
I stayed, ran hard, and shared in the joyful jubilation of individuals who accepted a challenge, being it a 5K run, 5K walk, or 5 mile run…..and that included my wife Angela who completed the 5K walk.
Leadership is being a part of the people while listening and working in both agreement and disagreement, not grandstanding in self-promotion or remaining apart from your fellow citizens.
In the afternoon, some 300 concerned voters gathered at an appropriately titled spot called Revolution. There we spoke of the issues facing our nation and how we as common Americans must rise up to this challenge. We heard inspiring voices such as that of Joyce Kaufman and other Congressional candidates speak of their love and commitment to our country.
I was honored to deliver the Pledge of Allegiance and give a short message on restoring the principles that made our country the greatest success the world has ever seen. The greatest surprise was at the end of the event when guest singer, Lloyd Marcus, turned to me and handed over the microphone and encouraged me to join him in singing “God Bless America”.
I was overcome by spontaneous fear as my singing is somewhat lacking, but the words came together and no one grabbed their ears. I believe that Mr. Marcus was even surprised, resulting in our finishing the song in a duet, but nope, not trying out for American Idol.
The tale of two Sundays is simple: one of a politician and the other of America. It is one of someone who possesses an elitist view of the people, the other a picture of America populated by volunteers running to raise funds for children, citizens walking to display their support of our troops and love of country, and voters gathering to participate in our great democracy. It is one of a Washington DC insider totally disconnected from the people he professes to serve while the citizens he ignores gather for three separate causes greater than themselves. I know which side I want to be on and when I sit in my home as the sun sets on such a great day as today, I am humbled at the outreach and selfless acts of all the runners, walkers and concerned citizens that stepped out of their lives for a moment in support of causes greater than themselves. I truly admire the charitable and dedicated attitudes of those Americans who see charity and love of country as simple deeds of gratitude for others as opposed to a cheap opportunity to be a false part of the community.
The choice for the people in Florida’s Congressional District 22 cannot be any clearer, even at 13 months out from the mid-term elections.
You can choose one who would walk away, or one who would take up the flag and run with you….a flag and spirit that will be taken into the chambers of the US House of Representatives.
The elections of 2010 will offer us all a chance to turn back the representation that represents no one but themselves, waste and special interests and choose warriors without masters who serve only the the people, the Ronin.
Steadfast and Loyal!
LTC(R) A B West
For more on Col West’s campaign go to “Allen West US Congress 2010”