Earn this . . . every day.
That was the challenge Col. Al Shine put before the “sons and daughters of Culver,” asking them to join him in never breaking faith with the 85 Gold Star men who died in World War I and the hundreds of other alumni whose Gold Stars are on flags in the Memorial Chapel and other locations around campus.
Shine, who served as Culver Military Academy’s Commandant of Cadets and a history instructor from 1990 through 2000, was the keynote speaker at Culver Academies’ centennial commemoration of the Armistice. The ceremony included the ringing of the Memorial Chapel’s bells as part of the international Bells of Peace program and was attended by dignitaries from the six original allied nations – Great Britain, France, Belgium, Italy, Serbia and Romania – that were present for the Legion Memorial Building’s dedication in 1924.
He told the Veterans Day audience gathered outside the Legion Sunday that we all owe a debt to those who have died to preserve “liberty and justice for all,” including his brothers, Tony and John, who were killed in action in Vietnam.
There are also many Culver graduates now serving in the military, Shine said. And those who serve will be challenged at some point because “there will always be evil in the world. And some times that evil can only be mitigated by the force of arms.”
Serving in the military is a noble calling, he added, but there is another way to pay our debt – or as Saving Private Ryan’s Capt. John Miller, who was mortally wounded saving Pvt. James Ryan, to “earn this.”
By living our lives every day “the best we can,” just as Ryan did, Shine said. Earn it by challenging the “wrongs small and big in ourselves as well as in others.” Follow the Culver Honor Code, the Code of Conduct, the Spirit of Culver. Follow the cardinal virtues of Wisdom, Courage, Justice, and Moderation, and “for clarification, kindness and the central Christian tenant of sacrificial love.”
By living up to the high ideals of this great institution, Shine said, we will keep faith with the Gold Star men of Culver, those buried in Flanders Field, and all veterans who have given their all; while, at the same time, making this part of the world a better place to live.