Earlier this summer, the Trump administration broke a promise regarding a path to citizenship for thousands of foreign-born men and women who have committed their lives to serving and protecting us through the military.

The administration said the decision to discharge some foreign-born, active-duty military personnel was a matter of national security because their personal information could not be confirmed easily.

Immigrants have been recruited to serve in America’s military since 1775, because they are needed. According to a Heritage Foundation report published in February, three-fourths of Americans age 17 to 24 are ineligible to serve due to problems ranging from obesity to having a criminal record to being under-educated to being unable to pass a drug test.

As a result, the Pentagon is unlikely to reach its recruitment goal of 80,000 for 2018.

In the midst of ordering these discharges, the commander in chief, a beneficiary of five draft deferments, also found time to antagonize Americans who could have dodged their obligation but who didn’t.

It takes a special, immeasurable kind of gall to punish people who want to serve while also disparaging those who did.

American heroism

At the outbreak of World War II, 20-year-old George H.W. Bush postponed college to join the Navy, where he became one of the youngest fighter pilots to serve.

On Sept. 2, 1944, the Japanese shot down Bush’s plane. He was the only one of nine Navy airmen who avoided capture. The others not only were beheaded, but parts of their bodies were eaten.

During his presidential inaugural address 45 years later, Bush described his ideal America as a place of "1,000 points of light," a country in which citizens and organizations engage in volunteerism and community service, which he described as "duty, sacrifice, commitment and a patriotism that finds its expression in taking part and pitching in."

Yet, this phrase recently was made fun of by the current president, a person who had no record of public service until 2016, and who also uses Sen. John McCain’s name to gin up boos from people who are demanding more civility.

McCain, a Navy pilot like Bush, was shot down in Vietnam, where he suffered five years of disfigurement and torture as a prisoner of war.

Some of the same people who once lauded McCain for his service now contend he was no American hero. Neither, they say, is former Marine Capt. Robert Mueller III, who earned a Bronze Star with Valor, a Purple Heart, two Navy Commendation Medals and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry before he went on to serve as director of the FBI.

How did we get to this place, where serving one’s country becomes a means by which to be insulted?

How did we come to be this particular America?

Then there’s Charlottesville

We recently passed the one-year anniversary of Charlottesville, no longer just a city, but a byword for the kind of bare-fanged hatred that no longer feels the need to stay cloaked.

The shameful spectacle of torch-wielding neo-Nazis and other various and sundry terrorists openly marching through an American city reminds us there are all kinds of light.

Light enlightens us. It also exposes us.

It can illuminate and heal, but also burn and destroy.

It can show us the path on which we will find honor and character or it can blind us to the truth.

Because America is one of the few flickering points of light in the world, if we are not vigilant, if we lose sight of that light, if we forget what happens when people give up even a crumb of freedom to sate the monsters of despotism, we’ll soon find ourselves staggering in darkness.

Which shall we choose?


Reach Charita M. Goshay at 330-580-8313 or charita.goshay@cantonrep.com.