Be like Clete and the boys

There’s a photo collage that draws me in every time I see it.

It’s of my Uncle Clete and his three boys. All are in military uniform. Each in a different one.

Clete, now passed, served in the Air Force. Jim served in the Navy and now lives in Michigan. Darrell was a Marine and resides in Virginia. Bob served in the Army Reserves and now calls Indiana his home.   

Many branches, but one mission—to love and defend our nation.

Some families have a proud tradition of generations joining the same branch of the military and serving. That is so good.

But I love the “same, but different” message that emanates from this photo. All loved their country and served, but each was independent-minded enough to go his own way.

It provides the first teachable moment—think for yourself.

The election season is upon us. No one political party has all the answers. Or, maybe a better way to say it is that political parties try to have too many answers. Very few would be willing to sign their name to all that their party professes on its state platform. The 2022 Iowa Democratic Party Platform has 560 statements of support or opposition to particular issues. That’s a lot of red lines. Republicans are capable of churning out quite a few planks too.

If the average Iowa voter isn’t going to be in full agreement on these hundreds of items, it makes extreme party loyalty unnecessary. Instead, consider what’s most important this election cycle and then determine which candidate is best suited to deliver.

Think. And then vote for individuals who can also think for themselves.    

The collage of Clete and the boys are typical basic training photos. They show confidence and determination. They didn’t have their whole life planned out at the moment. They didn’t need to. All they had to do was the next, right thing. And the next. And the next.

It’s not always easy to do the next, right thing. That’s called courage.

Most have moderate political voices. It can be a little overwhelming to simply hang on to that voice when louder voices attempt to silence it.  But take on cancel culture anyway, and don’t give up on finding reasonable, common-sense solutions to needs. Do it today and the next. And the next.

Have courage. Vote for others who have courage.

Lastly, remember that we’re on the same team.

I put three kids through school who were all active in high school sports. We didn’t always win. On nights when we were getting clobbered, though, I would look at the opposing team and think about how at least some of these kids would likely go on to join the military. Then, they would be on my team. Team USA.

The world seems to spin out of control when the United States doesn’t show leadership or display economic and military strength. Our team needs to win.


Vote for the candidate who will put our country first.  

This election, Clete and the boys don’t expect us to don uniforms in order to love and defend our nation. But let us think for ourselves, be courageous with our beliefs, and put our country first.

And vote for people like that too.