Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day Should Be About Action, Not Simply Remembrance.

Written by Scott Cooper

The thrust of what I am about to write came to me two years ago, in July 2011, as I stood on the front steps of Robert E. Lee’s home at what is now Arlington National Cemetery.

I was at Arlington with Student Leadership University.  The students were scheduled to participate in a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier; however a European dignitary was squeezed in ahead of our scheduled time, providing us a little over an hour of extra time.  Myself, and two other individuals chose to invest our time touring Lee’s Family Estate, known as Arlington House.

My thoughts and this message are not centered on the Civil War, the issues or outcome therein, but on the personal sacrifice of Robert E. Lee and his entire family.  While I knew he had been offered by President Abraham Lincoln to lead the Union Army, until I sat on his front porch viewing Washington DC, where he likely sat weighing his options and future sacrifice, I really did not fully understand the sacrifice or the hardship he placed his entire family under when he choose to do what he thought was right.

The home, sat on land that had been in his family for 83 years, and had been constructed 61 years prior.  6 of his 7 children had been born in that home.  What I did not know, is when he was offered leadership of the Union Army, he was in his 32nd year of Federal Government Service.  When he made the decision to stand with his home state, Virginia, he not only sacrificed his career and whatever pension he may have been due, he and his family vacated the mansion, as he knew the Federal Government would confiscate it, which is exactly what it did within a week of his departure.

This got me thinking about a subject I have written about beforeWhere are the leaders within the bureaucracy, who see what is taking place within our Federal Government and should be willing to stand up to stop it?

Selling Out Our Country, One Stapler At A Time:

Let me start by telling you my story about my stapler.  This stapler has sat on my desk for 33 years, since I was in the 5th grade.  What is interesting is how I acquired this stapler. 

During the fifth grade, I lived across the street from a Type A Government Worker.  (Yes, they do exist, and I greatly appreciate them).  Occasionally, when she would go into the office on Saturday, she would take me with her.  One Saturday morning in September 1980, we went to spend a few hours at her office in DC.  In the hallways there were piles and piles of office supplies.  I was told by my neighbor, that if there was anything I needed for school or to work on projects at home, I could take it.  Shocked, I didn’t believe her!  “I can’t do that – these items must be needed by folks that work here,” I said. 

No, I was told.  This was all going into the trash, to make room for a huge shipment of office supplies scheduled to arrive any day now.

As an 11 year old, I inquired, “Why are they ordering more office supplies, when they have to throw good stuff out to make room for new stuff?”  Seemed like an honest question to me!  I had been taught to “waste not, want not,” and to make everything last as long as possible. 

The explanation was-  “Due to the budget process, we need to spend this years money before the end of the fiscal year, in order to ensure we are budgeted the same amount of money next year; therefore an order for a boatload of new office supplies was made.  You see, if the money isn’t spent, we won’t get it again next year.”

“But it obviously isn’t needed, as can be witnessed by the amount of items that are being thrown away,” was my frustrated, aggravated response.  “Scott, that’s just the way it works.  I agree with you, it is wasteful, but that is the way it works.” I was told,

My hatred for Federal waste began at this early age.  I still have that stapler 33 years later, and my anger grows more every year.  I often use it as an example in conversations, or when I am speaking somewhere, stating “We are enslaving our children and grandchildren with useless debt, one stapler at a time!  I literally still use that stapler, and wonder how many have been thrown away in the last 33 years!  They don’t even make solid, metal staplers like this one any longer!

Got to get another fuel order in before the end of the fiscal year!

One night I told my stapler story to a group of men, and we began to share government waste stories.  “Oh that’s nothing," one man said.  "When I used to be stationed at Oceana Naval Air Station, at the end of the fiscal year, we would be ordered to take our jets over the Atlantic Ocean to dump fuel, to make room for another fuel order.”  This absolutely infuriated me. 

A couple months later I was at a convention where I relayed that Oceana Naval Air Station story to another guy, and he said – “Oh, I was stationed at Oceana in 1974.  We were ordered to do it back then too!"


I understand Self-Interest or Self-Preservation is a powerful motivator. 

I also understand that the pressure placed on potential whistleblowers is relentless and sometimes life threatening. 

Recently I had a conversation with a government insider who in tears said, “Scott, you simply do not understand the risks involved when trying to put a stop to any government corruption.”

I also understand what Edmund Burke is attributed to having said, “All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men (and women) to do nothing.”

Well – this waste is just that, evil.  And for decades we have allowed it to take place.  We have done very little to stop it – and our kids and grand kids will be forced to pay a horrible price, even if we did put a stop to it today.

Perhaps it can’t be reined in.  Perhaps we are destined to collapse fiscally, and enslave our kids and grand kids, because for decades we have permitted this to continue.  Ultimately, those within the system – who saw it first hand, promoted, encouraged or allowed it to happen, will be to blame. 

I mentioned Edmund Burke.  I also absolutely love the quote from Billy Graham, “When a bold man (or woman) takes a stand, he strengthens the spines of others.”

It is my hope and prayer that enough Individuals within the system will say enough is enough and begin to take bold and courageous steps.  Individuals who will no longer be willing to play a role in selling future generations of Americans into bondage.  Men and women of strong courage and character - like those we honored on Memorial Day, who paid the ultimate sacrifice!  Like Robert E. Lee, who after weighing his options, chose to do what he thought was right, and left the results up to God.

The whistleblowers in the current IRS, Benghazi and AP scandals give us renewed hope! 

I am confident there are many more out there – who are praying through such decisions. 

Consider spending some time, even tonight, in prayer for those individuals. 

The Liberty all of us have enjoyed is indeed at stake – at it is going to take many Patriots within the system, to turn the tide!

A Few of Scott's Past Writings:


  1. The day before and after are the days for action. Memorial day is for them. They have earned that day. Keep the day for what it is-remembrance.

  2. I agree, we need to devote a day to remember them! My point is, their sacrifice should inspire us to go to work to preserve what they sacrificed to give us. This message is particularly to those within the system - but ALL of us have a role to play! Thanks for the feedback!