Sunday, January 18, 2015

Good Morning Jack

Letter to my Son
Sunday, 18 January

Basquiat:  Boxer

Good Morning Jack…

During the last campaign I got to know Amos McClorey, head of the Cabarrus County NAACP.  I soon joined up.  Saturday morning was the MLK Prayer Breakfast at Bethel Baptist Church.  Amos sat across from me at a round table that seated six.  At one point Amos asked me what I thought of the event.  I’m afraid my mind went blank.  I could think of only stupid things to say.  After some time waiting for my response he gave up and changed the subject.  Amos mentioned that he and I nearly crossed paths long ago in Vietnam.  We discovered he arrived at Hotel Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines just as I was leaving in January, 1969.  I like to think that we had at least once seen each other there. 

Amos was an oh-3-11 – infantry rifleman.  Had he been an oh-3-31 – machine guns, or an oh-3-51 – rockets, his talent would have been wasted.  Platoon leadership was drawn from the 0311s.  These guys called the shots as squad leaders and platoon sergeants.  A machine gun squad leader was an onlooker by comparison, useless as a third tit.  Amos had to become comfortable making decisions in his role in Vietnam and this talent has been with him since.

A portion of a Martin Luther King speech was played at the occasion.  He spoke of the fear he felt early in his career.  Shortly after his first child was born he received a chilling call in the night.  If he and his family were not out of the county within three days they would all be dead.  Fear kept him awake nights.  He also battled with despair.  There was no foreordained course for civil rights.  For Dr. King there was no running from the setbacks and hardships that resulted from mistakes he may have made.  At critical moments during the civil rights campaign he struggled with self-doubt and gloom.  Martin Luther King prevailed over his doubts because he had the courage that comes with conviction.  It’s never just about ability.  Character always plays an important role in the decisions we make.  If we are to prevail over great challenge it is because we believe what we do is true.  Gossips focus only on flaws, ignoring the fact that strength of character is behind every act of making a difference for the better.


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