Friday, June 6, 2014

Heroism for the Moment Versus Virtue That Engenders Heroism

The last two nights were a blur. My youngest graduated from high school, and last night and the previous one kept us busy and out late with celebrations.

On the way to the graduation ceremony, he and I were discussing our conversation when, at the end of his eight grade year, I explained to him that the following four years were going to pass by before he realize what had happened. A few days before, he had told me that he was going to graduation practice, and I asked if he felt any excitement about that. His reply was one that I had not expected from the once-emotional child who had turned stoic as a young adult - he said that "It's more bittersweet than anything else". He then uttered the same statement that most of us have said or felt at one time or another.

It would be nice if we had one more year.  

Back to the trip to the school - I noted to my son that he should think about the possibility that he would accomplish things that would merit a plaque in his name for the hall of notable alumni at his school. Being a young man who is determined to become a Marine Officer (In English Marine Corps rather than the navy), he asked if I meant something along the lines of winning the Congressional Medal of Honor for bravery in combat. My reply was that anyone - even the laziest person imaginable, can perform heroic and selfless things when they chance upon an event that gives him the opportunity to act, but it is the man or woman of virtue, focus, and determination that will accomplish the most over time. The former can be a flash-in-the-pan, but the latter will be the one that others will strive to emulate.

After the graduation ceremony, one of my son's teachers walked up to me while the graduate was taking photos with his friends and made a very nice comment:

He is going to accomplish great things. 

That was a great thing to hear. It also confirmed what I told him while we were driving to the school - that great things are achieved by those who never cease to strive while living a life of virtue. 

I responded to the teacher with my thanks and added that, when Frederick the Great of Prussia was asked what type of general he favored, he replied:

-The lucky ones.

I hold that what Fredrick meant was that, by constantly working to better his troops, his officers, and himself while always looking for the opportunity to do well, the best leaders will make their own luck.

My son will be attending a prestigious and very old senior military college. This was his choice and his anticipation to begin training and classes there in August  is more than sufficient to - at least somewhat, offset the pain of parting with his first and only girlfriend until Thanksgiving break in November. 

Time will tell if my son brings the confident prediction of his highs school teacher to fruition, so I will have to trust in God and do my best to refrain from giving him cause to lose faith in his faith, cultural inheritance, and his upbringing.  

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