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Tuesday, November 04, 2003
A Man of Honor Bows Out
January 10, 2003
by Thomas D. Segel
Thomas D. SegelHarlingen, TX - Senator Zell Miller has announced he will not seek reelection in 2004. With his departure, America will lose a great public servant and patriot. This man on honor is one of the few “real deals” in Congress.
I have known Zell Miller for some years. During his time as Governor of Georgia, I was serving as national President of the United States Marine Corps Combat Correspondents Association. During that time we exchanged letters and telephone calls on a fairly frequent basis.
Zell is a former Marine and journalist. He was also a member of our combat correspondent’s organization, who was a principal speaker at the national convention. What he talked about that year was a thing called Corps Values.
Corps Values is a book Zell Miller wrote during his years as governor. It is subtitled “Everything You Need To Know I Learned In The Marines”.
Zell has said that as he advanced through his political life he witnessed the erosion of fundamental values in today’s society. He reflected back on the most influential years of his life and what he learned as a Marine. “The basic lessons Marines teach their recruits are important ones”, he says. “I believe that more of our citizens must learn these lessons if…our republican form of government is to survive….”
It was in support of this objective the Senator wrote his book Corps Values. They are values many believe he has found lacking among his peers in the halls of our nation’s Capital.
Zell Miller believes an individual’s core (or Corps) values should include neatness, responsibility, persistence, discipline and shame. He also feels the values including brotherhood, courage, achievement, punctuality, respect, pride and loyalty all blend together and contribute to the advancement of mankind.
One of the key values championed by Miller is a sense of shame. “Shame”, he writes, “was ordained by God himself as a basic motivation in human existence when Adam and Eve ruined paradise for themselves by eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge…the proverbial ‘apple’. “ He feels that whether one accepts that information as an allegory or the truth, the lesson to mankind is the same. “The more one learns, the more responsibility one must accept for one’s actions.”
Miller feels that to choose wrong over right and to be caught, whether by apprehension or by the condemnation of one’s conscience must cause a person to feel shame, or embarrassment. He also believes that failure to be motivated by that shame to straighten oneself out, to make amends or accept punishment…and most of all learn not to repeat the mistakes of the past, only compounds the consequences. It is without doubt; Zell Miller has found a sense of shame missing among most of his fellow Senators.
If you were to pick a single trait to explain Zell Miller it could very well be his acceptance of responsibility. Responsibility, as a value is a prominent message in his writings. Lack of acceptance of that value, he writes is, “perhaps the greatest single flaw in the fabric of today’s society. Too few seem to understand or accept that basic concept for living successful, meaningful and contributing lives.”
“Many people today seem to want everything given to them. Children do not want to lead disciplined lives. Students do not want to study. Few people, it seems want to work, especially not if the task is hard and the hours are long. Everybody wants dessert, but few are willing to eat spinach to get it.”
Miller reflects back to his days in the Marine Corps. He recalls how he was taught that he was not only responsible for himself but for all his fellow Marines. He was responsible for his gear, his uniform, his area, his bunk, his rile, his appearance, the barracks, the surrounding grounds and the entire battalion area. All Marines were “responsible”. He strongly believes that responsibility is what life is all about and that it should not be as easy to shirk and disregard as last year’s fashions.
Miller charges that responsibility is also a necessity for all journalists in both the print and electronic media. He believes in the freedom of the press, but also states, “I does not believe that editors or reporters have any right to create the news or interpret happenings anywhere except on the editorial pages”.
To Zell Miller, responsibility is part of his very being. He feels it means people must always conduct themselves in a fashion where their conduct contributes to the betterment of society. If they cannot contribute in that manner, he feels that what they do should at least not denigrate or depreciate society's goals and values.
It is our feeling this man of honor is leaving his leadership position because he finds it impossible to mould Congress into an image he respects. There can be no other real answer. Zell Miller has been in Washington long enough to find out the real truth. Congress lacks Corps Values.
Thomas D. Segel
Thomas D. Segel is a twice wounded, former combat correspondent who saw enemy action during the Korean War and two tours of duty in Vietnam. He retired from the Marine Corps as a Master Gunnery Sergeant after 26 years of service. His next assignment was as Director of Information and adjunct faculty member of the Marine Military Academy. He then completed a new career and recently retired from service with the State of Texas, where he was Director, Division of Information, Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation, Rio Grande State Center. He holds the Thomas Jefferson Award for Journalistic Excellence, The Marine Corps Combat Correspondents Association Distinguished Performance Award and six Armed Forces Writers Association Distinguished Achievement Awards. Segel has authored four books, including "Men in Space" which received the honor of being placed on both the National High School and National Junior High School Library Lists. He currently writes for several on line publications, national magazines and newspapers. His writings are distributed nationally to more than 1,300 publications by the Paragon Foundation News Service. He holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Texas Pan American and earned his masters degree at Vanderbilt University. He is a past national president of the United States Marine Corps Combat Correspondents Association. Segel resides with his wife, Pattie, in Harlingen, Texas.
Visit his home page here
Other articles by Thomas D. Segel can be found in the Men's News Daily archive.
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By R.W. "Dick" Gaines
GySgt USMC (Ret.)
Posted by Gunny G at Tuesday, November 04, 2003