Smedley Darlington Butler: What a True American Hero Looks Like, Part Two

In our issue of July 17, 2020, W.D. Ehrhart wrote about the the extraordinary early career of Smedley D. Butler. by W.D. Ehrhart Butler was not without his warts and blemishes. He loved the adrenalin rush of combat, the sheer challenge and excitement of it. As a young lieutenant, he complained in letters to his congressman father that the policies he was enforcing in countries like Nicaragua, Honduras, and Haiti were corrupt and immoral, benefitting only the white wealthy ruling class in America, yet he continued his career in the Corps for nearly three more decades. He began to speak out only after he’d gotten …

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Smedley Darlington Butler: What a True American Hero Looks Like

by W.D. Ehrhart I went through Marine Corps boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina, in the summer of 1966. We learned all sorts of things that summer, but one thing we learned was the names of the two Marines who had each won not one, but two Medals of Honor: Dan Daly and Smedley Butler. Butler would have received three Medals of Honor if the award had been available to officers during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900 China. Every enlisted man on a patrol he led as a teenaged lieutenant received one, but he was instead awarded the Marine Corps Brevet Medal, the highest …

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As American as Apple Pie

For much of my adult life, I have taught high school English and history, most recently including eighteen years at the Haverford School for Boys in suburban Philadelphia, retiring in June 2019 at the age of 70. In my U.S. History course, I always teach a unit I call “Race in America,” which begins with the first shipload of Africans arriving in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619, and goes right up to Rosa Parks and the modern Civil Rights Movement. I sugarcoat nothing. We cover slave life on the plantation with its whippings and brandings and castrations and amputations, the almost infinitely repeated rape of female …

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A Letter to My Daughter: Election 2020

Dear ________, Whatever you think of my wish that the Green Party not complicate this particular Presidential election—and I know you and many other Millennials don’t agree with me, fed up as you justifiably are with both major political parties—please understand that I do care about your future and the lives of the rest of your generation and the generations to follow. And that includes the daughters. I do not for a moment wish to underrate or dismiss or minimize the hurt and damage and pain and disrespect the sexual abuse of women engenders. My mother was a woman. My wife is a woman. You …

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Captain Crozier Deserves a Medal

Let me get this straight: Captain Brett Crozier, commanding officer of the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt has been relieved of his command for “poor judgment,” “unprofessional conduct,” and damage to his “national security mission” because he wrote a letter asking the U.S. Navy for resources to help his crew of nearly 5,000 sailors deal with a coronavirus outbreak on his ship. Meanwhile, his and our Commander-in-Chief got elected at least in part through the help and intervention of Russian President Vladimir Putin, a man for whom our president often expresses affection and admiration.  Our Commander-in-Chief has gone through Secretaries of Defense and National Security Advisors as …

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