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Working for a greater cause

December 20, 2011
By Richard Clark , Daily Press

ESCANABA - A little over a week ago I was surfing through the local TV channels and the Army/Navy game surfaced. The teams were playing in Washington D.C.

Navy won. After the game the cadets from both sides remained in their places in the stands. The Army players gathered in three lines facing their brothers and sisters of West Point and sang the West Point alma mater. The Navy players stood quietly and respectfully behind the West Point players.

Next, the Navy players crossed the field, stood in front of the Annapolis cadets and sang the Annapolis alma mater while Army cadet corps stood behind.

Article Photos

Richard Clark

The players played without tattoos that adorn the bodies of their counterparts in civilian schools. Tattoos are not a part of an officer's uniform.

The end of the Army/Navy game did not result in mayhem on the field or in the streets. The cadets attending the game wore the uniforms of their respective services. The sameness of style cannot be confused with humdrum lack of commitment.

Driving my car to Green Bay I noticed a billboard out of the corner of my eye. A large image of a saluting Marine contained a caption that said the Marines' goal was to work for a cause greater than themselves.

Working for a cause greater than oneself is a trait lacking in public realm. We care too much about the private narcissistic world of the Kardashians, the world that has corrupted Bruce Jenner, one time Olympian whose javelin throwing image was displayed on Wheaties boxes.

It is time to embrace those in the new generation who have demonstrated a willingness to serve a cause greater than their own. The core principles of the Marine Corps are honor, courage and commitment. General Douglas MacArthur's "Duty, Honor, Country" speech flushed out the meaning and the depth of these principles.

Because of a mutual Facebook friend I have been following a Marine, Sgt. David Knezek, who served two Iraq tours in a scout sniper platoon. America decorated Sgt. Knezek for his Iraq service.

Sgt. Knezek continued his commitment to a greater cause by teaching children. I followed Sgt. Knezek's professional excitement as he positively impacted the lives of the children in his charge.

Not landing a full-time position Sgt. Knezek substitute teaches and seeks to serve a greater cause by running for Michigan State Representative of the 11th District. West of Detroit the 11th District encompasses Sgt Knezek's home town of Dearborn Heights.

Facebook responses from Marines who served with Sgt. Knezek demonstrate that his peers respect Mr. Knezek. I wouldn't be surprised if those comrades will be part of his campaign.

I called Mr. Knezek and found his energy and enthusiasm contagious. The citizens of the 11th State House district would be hard pressed to find a better representative.

Athletes from the military academies rarely move into the professional sports and often serve a greater good. In the late 1950s Cadet William Carpenter played wide receiver for West Point. He was nicknamed the "Lonesome End" because he stayed near the sideline never entering the huddle. Plays were signaled to him.

The "Lonesome End" won All American honors as a senior in 1959. The Army awarded Mr. Carpenter medals for valor in Vietnam. In 1966 as commander of a surrounded company he brought an air strike in on his own position ultimately relieving the pressure on his unit so it could break out.

Senators John McCain, Chuck Hagel and Jim Webb are examples of people who went into public service to serve a greater cause after serving their country in the Navy, Army and Marine Corps. In opposition to an extension of the Patriot Act, Senator Hagel, a critic of the Bush administration, said ""I took an oath of office to the Constitution, I didn't take an oath of office to my party or my president."

Unquestionably the state of Michigan will profit from the commitment Sgt. Knezek will bring to the State House of Representatives. Semper Fi, Sgt. Knezek.


EDITOR'S NOTE - Richard Clark, Escanaba, practices personal injury law throughout the Upper Peninsula. He can be reached at



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