As military veterans will tell you, the services are run not by the officers but by the senior noncoms, the E-8s and E-9s who set the tone, enforce discipline and get things done. (Right, Dad?) Even most officers, if they’re smart, will defer behind the scenes to their senior enlisted personnel.
Michael Barrett, for example, is command sergeant major of the U.S. Marine Corps, the service’s top non-commissioned officer. Judging from the photograph to the right, Barrett is a man able to grab and hold the attention of anyone within a hundred yards of his voice. And as the Wall Street Journal reports, he has a message that he’s trying to drive home to his fellow Marines:
“Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution is pretty simple,” he told a group of Marines at a base in South Korea. “It says, ‘Raise an army.’ It says absolutely nothing about race, color, creed, sexual orientation.
“You all joined for a reason: to serve,” he continued. “To protect our nation, right?”
“Yes, sergeant major,” Marines replied.
“How dare we, then, exclude a group of people who want to do the same thing you do right now, something that is honorable and noble?” Sgt. Maj. Barrett continued, raising his voice just a notch. “Right?”
Sgt. Maj. Barrett then described conversations with U.K. troops, who saw a similar ban lifted a decade ago, with little disruption. And to drive the point home, he produced a pocket copy of the Constitution.
“Get over it,” he said. “We’re magnificent, we’re going to continue to be. … Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines.”
I don’t really think this is going to be a problem.
– Jay Bookman