Boy, you’ve been through some crap.
I guess I don’t need to tell you that. I will tell you that I’m sorry you’re having to deal with so much of this stuff, and I’ll apologize to you on behalf of myself and millions like me. We’re the ones who allowed America to devolve into what it’s become. We weren’t strong enough, weren’t engaged enough, weren’t interested enough to nip these things in the bud when we saw them happening, and now we’re all on the verge of losing the greatest nation in the history of mankind simply because it’s been easier to just sit on the couch and do nothing about any of it. America is dying on our watch, and you’ve been caught up in it’s horrid spiraling demise. I’m sincerely sorry for that.
The bottom line is we haven’t been brave enough. We haven’t shown the courage to fight when fighting has been necessary. We haven’t been honorable enough to stand when a stand needed to be taken. It isn’t that we’ve allowed our lines in the sand to be crossed; it’s that we’ve never made a serious effort to even find any sand, let alone actually draw a line in it. We’re a generation of apathetic cowards who’ve allowed ourselves to be bullied, demeaned, labeled, and otherwise disrespected by some of the worst of the dregs of society. They call us names, place us in groups that don’t even exist (and don’t fit us in any case), intentionally paint us into corners, and still we just sit there and let them do as they will. They threaten violence and we respond with talk. They commit actual violence and we settle in to watch it on television.
It takes courage to actually do, or even try to do, something meaningful to stop the mayhem. Most of us just don’t have it.
You did. You stood for your country, your community, and your fellow man. Barbarians were at the gate, even inside it, and you answered the call. While most cowered in the keep, you rushed full-on to the ramparts, prepared to turn back the devils if they managed to breach the wall.
Of course, you never expected the events of that night. You were there to present a deterrent, assist the injured when possible, and simply do good. I’m sure you know already, but I want you to understand with certainty that the majority of America knows and understands what you were there to do, and most of us wish now we had been there doing it with you. We admire your conviction, and of course your courage.
In being a good citizen, you showed much more civic pride (and duty) than most of us ever have. It’s men like you who stop robberies in the middle of the street, or stop rapes in the dark back alleys. When people stop being like you, folks get ambushed in the middle of the day in crowds of people, and all anyone else will do is record it on their phone looking for a big media payday or YouTube fame. It’s shameful.
You didn’t do that, and that’s why you should never be ashamed of who you are or what you did as events transpired on that day.
You’re being called a “hero” in some circles. That’s someone’s attempt to raise you up from the quagmire you wound up in once you had to defend yourself. I avoid that word, partly because it’s overused but also because it doesn’t really reflect what you did, and it absolutely ignores the reality of your situation. It was very manly – and that’s a word I’m going to come back to in just a moment – to stand when others weren’t able to, but it’s rarely heroic to kill people, even when you have to. This is especially true in cases of defending oneself from harm. This is why you don’t feel like a “hero”; it’s an incongruous image for the facts of the case, and your brain (not to mention your heart) is well aware of it.
I prefer to think of you as just a good person who wound up in bad circumstance and made the best of it that he could. This is indeed noble, but I wouldn’t use the word “hero”. It’s just a person doing the right thing.
I’m going to talk to you like a Dad now. I want you to hear what I have to say from this point as if you were my own son, because in fact you could easily have been. These are the things I’d say if it was my son wearing your shoes right now.
I’m proud of you. I’m sure your actual father is, too, but coming from a Dad who isn’t yours, I’d like to think it might make a difference to you. What you did wasn’t easy. I don’t just mean the skill with your weapon, which is also worthy of pride, but I’m talking about handling a desperate situation with as much grace and proper decision-making as could be expected of anyone, let alone a 17-year-old kid. You accounted of yourself brilliantly. I’ve watched the videos, seen and heard the court testimony, and I can tell you that as someone who has trained pretty extensively for situations just like the one you faced, I’m not certain I could do it as well as you did. When it was over, you also did the right things, looking for police and attempting to “turn yourself in” over the obviously bad situation. This is what a good person does, because he expects there to be justice.
Again, I’m sorry there hasn’t been much of that for you at this point. Some people are just shameful, awful individuals, and sometimes they reach positions of power over others that they are too incompetent, or too mean-spirited, to handle properly. The prosecutors in your case are great examples of this, but there have been hundreds of such examples, from the (supposed) President of the United States on down the line.
We’re in a time where “manly” is one of those words that has been taken away from us as a civilization, as if it is evil. If someone gets offended by it now, so be it. I’m going to use it because it so properly expresses how you’ve behaved, before, during, and after the event. I believe that many people would have wet their pants (and likely would have wound up dead) in a situation such as you experienced. They wouldn’t have assessed the situation correctly (as you did), responded appropriately (as you did), behaved properly afterward (as you did), or faced the music you’ve been forced to face with as much grace and dignity as you have. These are all the signs of a real man; that they’re so obvious in someone who is barely shaving is a tribute to you and to your parents for having raised you right. As an aside, let me say that some who have criticized you, such as LeBron James, do so only because they are looking up at you. They see someone they have had every opportunity to be, and haven’t (nor will they ever) reached that plateau. Regarding Mr. James specifically, he’s one of the greatest basketball players in history, and yet he’ll never be half the man you already are. He has to look himself in the mirror every day, and you can be sure he realizes it each time he does.
Speaking of looking oneself in the mirror, you’ve got a long life ahead of you having to do just that. You’re going to see the faces of those men you had to kill, and there will be times those faces haunt you.
That is as it should be. No matter how good or bad they were as people, no matter how necessary they made your actions, they were still people whose lives you were forced to end. There is no glory in that. It will never be easy to live with that knowledge.
But there’s no shame in it, either. When you are innocent of wrongdoing but faced with a “them or me” situation, it should always be you who survives if you have the ability and means to make it so. You did, and it was the right thing. You’ll lose your share of sleep over it because you’re a good person who had to do something terrible, but let righteousness and honor handle those moments because both were upheld by your actions.
The last thing I want to say is this; bad things happen to good people. You did everything right – don’t ever doubt that – but the world is trying to do everything wrong right now, and you’re liable to be a victim of that. There isn’t a lot of justice in the American justice system at present. You should easily be found innocent of any charge they attempt to bring against you, but society is leaning into everyone from the judge to the jury on this one. Those jurors may be in fear for their lives. They may make bad decisions, or purposely incorrect ones, in order to (they think) protect themselves and their families. You could wind up paying a price you don’t owe, relegated to a place and sentence you don’t deserve.
Don’t despair. Patriots won’t “bust you out” in the traditional sense, but we’ll be sure to put as much pressure on as possible, to the governor of your state, and to the next President of the United States if necessary, to secure your unconditional pardon and immediate release. There are still honorable people in high places, and we’ll do our best to make sure those folks get involved and commute whatever idiocy might befall you as a result of this horrible “trial”. It won’t happen overnight, but it won’t take long. I suspect the next President will sign that pardon before his butt hits the leather of the Oval Office chair.
With a bit of good fortune, that won’t be necessary, though. The whole world saw the evidence and knows you’re not guilty. I’d like to think the jurors will follow your example and do the right thing.
I’m proud to call you my countryman, proud to stand beside you, and I’d be proud to have you as my son. Continue to stand strong. This will all be over soon enough. In the meantime, remember that you’ve got MILLIONS and MILLIONS of patriots behind you.
Thank you for being better than we have been. Maybe your example will serve to make us all aware of how unworthy we are to call ourselves American patriots while allowing our country to drift so far off course. Maybe, because of you, we’ll correct all that.
By Jackson P. Chamberlain
Jackson P. Chamberlain is a right-leaning, liberty-loving husband and father whose American heritage dates back nearly four hundred years. He writes from his home at the base of the Appalachian Mountains. He can be found on GETTR @jpchamberlain, or on MeWe as Jackson Chamberlain. He does not do Facebook or Twitter.
Photo is a screengrab from PBS News Hour.