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Independence Day reminder that families of those in military also served and sacrificed

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It seems appropriate to celebrate Independence Day 2017 by focusing on a couple of events designed to help remind us that our freedom was secured at the outset and ensured for decades since then not just by the men and women in the military, but by their families, who also served.

One is the 55-year-old Marine Corps Scholarship Fund, whose purpose is to fund college scholarships for children of U.S. Marines. The event has gained growing recognition in the Seattle area since the first local fund-raising dinner three years ago. The other is a new scholarship named to honor widely celebrated Seattle-area Medal of Honor recipient Bruce Crandall and his late wife, Arlene.
 
Major General Tracy Garrett (Ret.)Major General
Tracy Garrett (Ret.)
Although the Marine Corps Scholarship Fund was been an annual event nationally since 1962, providing more than 37,000 scholarships and $110 million in scholarship support, the first Northwest event was held in Seattle in 2014, raising $200,000.

Even before that first Seattle event,  the Scholarship Foundation helped scores of Marine children in Washington and the Northwest. But now it has grown dramatically
in visibility and support, with the 2016 event raising $900,000.

And that awareness is still growing since, as a Marine whose active reserve duty was in 1962, I first learned about it a few weeks ago when I met Tracy Garrett, the retired Marine major general who serves as campaign chair for the Northwest banquet, which will be held October 25 at the Westin in Seattle.

I decided to do my bit for broader visibility when I learned that two longtime associates, Kirby Cramer, who as CEO guided Hazleton Labs into global leadership in its industry, and Karl Ege, Vietnam veteran, and prominent Seattle attorney and civic leader, were honorees at the 2016 banquet. Cramer was the Globe & Anchor Award recipient with Ege receiving special recognition.

When I called Cramer last week to get a quote for this column, we talked a bit about our past service with the Marine Corps and he appropriately scolded me with "how can we know each other for years and I never knew of your Marine background?"

Then he offered "This MCSF dinner introduces several hundred people to the wonderful work being done to provide higher education to the children of Marines, but the enthusiasm of their word of mouth exposes this event to thousands of their friends."

At this year's Northwest event, the husband and wife team of Fred Radke and Gina Funes will be honored. As bandleader and soloist they have been prominent entertainers in Seattle at first Westin then Four Season hotels and as faculty members, at University of Washington School of Music, they have educated many who became musicians.

"It's worth sharing the impact the scholarships have on the children of Marines," retired Gen. Garrett offered. "Young men and women raise their hands to support and defend our nation and pull their families into the commitment with them. Moms and dads, husbands and wives and certainly the children support their Marines with quiet courage and self-sacrifice."

Garrett, a UW grad, struck me as an excellent reminder that neither the Marines nor any other military branch, whether among the enlisted or officer ranks, are male bastions any longer.

She retired three years ago after 36 years of active and reserve service with career highlights that included combat deployment in Iraq in 2004-2005, being the first woman to serve as Inspector General of the Marine Corps in 2006 and serving as Commander of Marine Forces in Europe and Africa in 2007 and 2008.

The Bruce and Arlene Crandall Social Courage Award, created by their son, Steve, will be presented by Antioch University Seattle and is named for a military hero rather than being presented to a veteran or his or her offspring.

But as Steve Crandall told me: "I always viewed dad's service as not just a sacrifice he made but in which my mother was a partner."
 
"We often recognize those in the service but this is to recognize her sacrifice, a woman left with three young boys, including a year old infant, while her husband was off on the first of two tours in Vietnam," Crandall added. "She was an example of the truth we now recognize - that you don't have to go off to war to serve your country."

Bruce Crandall was an Army helicopter pilot whose prominence was tied to his heroism at the Battle of Ia Drang. The role in the battle taken by Crandall and his wingman, Ed "Too Tall" Freeman flying their 'copters nearly two dozen times into what amounted to an under-constant-fire Death Zone to drop supplies and evacuate wounded was featured in the book We Were Soldiers Once...and Young, and the movie, We Were Soldiers.

Crandall and Freeman were both awarded the Medal of Honor, the only time that two helicopter pilots were so honored for the same battle.

The younger Crandall, a member of Antioch's Board of Governors and CEO of ProMotion Holdings in Seattle. said $55,000 has been raised with the goal of awarding the first $5,000 scholarship this fall. He said the plan is to award scholarships quarterly to an undergraduate and one to a student pursuing a masters degree.

The award, for which applications are now being reviewed, is meant to empower Antioch Seattle students "with a desire and vision for engaging our community in addressing critical social issues," Crandall said, noting that "those who are veterans already can attend courses free at Antioch."

Going back to the Marine Corps conversation with Cramer, I shared that my post-retirement business travels on a somewhat regular basis to Orange County and San Diego have provided me considerable reminder time of Boot Camp in San Diego and advanced training at Camp Pendleton those 55 years ago.

Whenever my Alaska flight lands in San Diego, I focus on and recall the huts of boot camp visible not far beyond the airport. And on the occasions when I drive from Orange County to San Diego, the path crosses Camp Pendleton where sometimes training exercises are going on not far from the beach that is the west side of the mostly arid hills of the base.
Anyone who has been through Marine Boot Camp isn't likely to forget the not just physical by also psychological training that prepared Marines for whatever was to come. 
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Reflections: Brexit, out-of-touch High Court ruling, talk of 28th Amendment

It was well over a year ago that my brother, a retired Spokane small-business owner, began telling me, in support of the Donald Trump phenomenon, “Mike, you don’t understand, the silent majority is roaring.” My response was always, “I hear the roar, but it’s a minority made up of those unsettled by the murky mix of terrorism and immigration policies and angered by their lack of influence, or even contact, with the establishment.”

Then came last week’s Brexit vote, where the English version of folks I described turned out to be the majority, leaving establishment leaders of both major parties in this country to ponder whether what’s at stake is a desire to throw out the system rather than merely overturn particular politicians or policies. And what that means come November.

Or for the future. Thus perhaps an appropriate time to ponder questions as Independence Day approaches

Now a week following the blow to the U.K. comes a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court almost certain to fuel anger at the established order, the court making it harder to prosecute public officials for corruption by basically saying it’s ok for “the system” to include paying elected officials to influence their decisions.

At issue was the case of former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell, who was convicted by a lower court of using his office to help a businessman who had provided McDonnell and his wife with luxury products, loans and vacations worth more than $175,000 when Mr. McDonnell was governor.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the court, narrowed the definition of what sort of conduct can serve as the basis of a corruption prosecution. He wrote that “routine political courtesies like arranging meetings or urging underlings to consider a matter generally, even when the people seeking those favors give the public officials gifts or money,” do not represent corruption.

The alternative to the new limits, Roberts wrote, would be to criminalize routine political behavior. “Conscientious public officials arrange meetings for constituents, contact other officials on their behalf and include them in events all the time,” he wrote. All the time! Isn’t that the problem?

By now readers of this column have likely concluded that the usual focus on people, companies and issues that relate the Northwest is being upstaged to Harp about some personal thoughts on an issue that impacts us in this region, but that transcends us.

Fodder for thought following Brexit, for those who care to think, is offered by The Los Angeles Times‘ Vincent Bevins: “Since the 1980s the elites in rich countries have overplayed their hand, taking all the gains for themselves and just covering their ears when anyone else talks, and now they are watching in horror as voters revolt.”

It has to be hoped that the revolt is aimed at reconstructing rather than destructing the Democratic process. But that may not be certain.

A quote from author and MSNBC commentator Chris Hayes is getting attention on social media in the wake of the Brexit vote.

“The mechanism that western citizens are expected to use to express and rectify dissatisfaction – elections – has largely ceased to serve any correction function. When Democracy is preserved only in form, structured to change little to nothing about power distribution, people naturally seek alternatives for the redress of their grievances, particularly when they suffer.”

Coincident with the post-Brexit analysis have come a couple of group emails in which I was included, both suggesting that the idea of change by the ballot isn’t being totally abandoned. Both related to a focus on the 28th amendment to the U.S. constitution and both widely popular but not yet widely promoted.

The first relates to ongoing discussion about an amendment to overturn Citizens United, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that held political expenditures by corporations could not be limited.

Polls show the efforts for a 28th Amendment to overturn Citizens United is supported by more than 75 percent of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents and sixteen states have enacted 28th Amendment resolutions.

The other idea gathering support as a proposed 28th amendment: "Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and/or Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and/or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States."

It strikes me that this idea could generate some positive action from voters by, between now and the November General Election, insisting every member of Congress on the ballot, as well as every state legislator, commit to voting in favor of the constitutional change next year. Or bite the bullet as voters and vote for the opponent, regardless of ideological compatability.

There are examples of the manner in which a fed-up public can bring a positive focus to their anger and bring about beneficial change within the system.

 

One such example was actually the result of an idea of someone from inside “the system,” then-Washington congressman Brian Baird, who during the last three of his six terms as the representative from the state’s third district sought to gather support in Congress for what he called the “Stock Act.”

 

Baird sought to prevent members of Congress from doing stock transactions in areas they regulate, in essence, prohibiting their investing in a manner that those in the real world call Insider Trading.

 

I wrote about it in a November, 2011, column after a program on CBS’ “60 Minutes” brought national attention to Baird’s idea with a program titled “Honest graft.”

 

For ordinary citizens, reaction to Baird's proposal would be a laughable "well, of course." But in a place whose mantra is "the rules we make for you don't apply to us," seeking to force action by the lawmakers on one small, self-imposed ethical constraint could become a rallying point for a fed-up public.

 

The thrust of the CBS segment was that lawmakers often made stock purchases and trades in the very fields they regulate. While ordinary citizens could be jailed for engaging in the kind of investment shenanigans that those in Congress involve themselves in, there's wasn’t even an ethical concern among lawmakers.

 

Reporter Steve Croft questioned then-House Speaker John Boehner and former Speaker Nancy Pelosi at their respective news conferences. And the ineptitude with which both Boehner and Pelosi tried to answer Croft's questions about whether their investment practices were at least conflicts of interest, the thought that had to occur was "Who elects these people?" The answer, unfortunately, is people like us elect them. And both have continued to be elected. Shame on us. And so maybe a revolt wouldn’t be that bad.

 

As a result of the outcry following the program and You Tube pieces on the congressional leaders’ confused responses, the Stock Act was passed overwhelmingly in the spring of 2012 with what observers described as “vulnerable congressmen” at the forefront of supporters. So now Members of Congress and employees of Congress are prohibited from using private information derived from their official positions for personal benefit, and for other purposes.

 

Baird had already retired by then, having decided not to seek a seventh term, thus exemplifying one of the concerns about the future of the Democracy as currently operating: The Nancy Pelosis remain in office and the Brian Bairds decide to leave.

 

 



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