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As Long as We Remember...

October 24, 2003

Need A New Leader? Look In The Mirror!

Derek Shackelford

Recently the United States Congress allocated $87 billion for the reconstruction project in Iraq. Most of the financial resources will go to support the troops. I truly and honestly believe that our armed forces should have all the necessary tools at their disposal.

Everything that needs to be given to the military should be available; after all, they are in harm's way each and every day. It seems that any person who has an issue with the amount of money to finance the reconstruction project may be deemed to be unpatriotic.

I would submit that the issues of financial resources allocated are not a slight against the military, but a close examination of policy.

Let's rewind to the beginning. First, it was initially disclosed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and were a threat to the security of the United States. To date, no weapons of mass destruction have been found.

Secondly, Saddam Hussein was a murderous dictator and would be captured. To this date, no capture of Saddam Hussein.

Thirdly, Osama bin Laden is wanted dead or alive. To date, no capture of Osama bin Laden.

I believe the armed forces are doing an outstanding job of protecting America's freedom, but the close examination of this administration's policy must be done and should not be overlooked. America's has had the war on drugs, the war on poverty, and now the war on terror. The question remains how successful have we really been in fighting these wars.

An easy solution would be to call for the allocation of $87 billion dollars for education and investment in this country, particularly when millions of people are without health care, affordable housing, and are unemployed.

It seems a shame that the richest country in the world does not appear to be taking care of its own. But it always seems to be able to find money to build up another country.

Even right here in this state, the University of Maryland will have a tuition hike of 15% next year. This may appear to be an easy exercise. When state and local budgets are strapped for money, the politicians just ask for a bigger chunk from our paycheck.

We, as the generation of today and tomorrow, need to take a stand. Do not let anyone tell us that we are too young, lack experience, or it is not our time yet.

We have a national election next year that is important in terms of our history and destiny. The Democratic Party presidential candidates have not brought too much to the table in many regards either.

In the 1960's, Vietnam and the civil rights movement were the issues; in the 1970's, poverty; and in the 1980's, gay rights. Today, we have become a generation more concerned with style over substance. Who looks good, who sounds good, and who has the right family name.

We need to look beyond the artificial and the superficial. It is time for a new generation of leaders to step up to the plate, leaders who are not afraid to take risks, leaders who can stand for others, and leaders who can empathize with the masses of people.

If you and I cannot find that leader, just look in the mirror and say softly: If it is to be, then it is up to me.

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