Empty chair goes way back
Regarding the Ruptured Duck post “Committee to honor POW/MIAs with empty chair” in the March 22 print editions: This is exactly what the Athenians did in 500 B.C. after the Persian wars in a ceremony to honor and bury the Athenians. It is brilliantly described in the masterpiece of the Epitafios of Pericles, a speech delivered by the Athenian general Pericles, who fought in the battle of Marathon.
In this speech that describes the glory of Athens in the 5th century B.C., you can find two new ideas invented by the Greeks. The first was the idea of the unknown soldier translated exactly for this ancient speech, and the second is the word democracy “democratia.” Pericles states in that speech that the Athenian form of government is not zealous to the laws of others (meaning the Spartans without mentioning them). And the name is democracy (dimokratia), because is based on the many and not of the few.
It is worth mentioning that, according to my high school teacher, the word democracy is written for the first time in this speech. Therefore the empty chair of the Stars and Stripes post is not a new idea, but of course is still a good idea.
Just for the sake of history.
Camp Arifjan, Kuwait
Court-martial curfew violators
The March 7 article “USFK commander calls out leaders for curfew violations” about Gen. James Thurman, commander of U.S. Forces Korea, being upset with the U.S. military leadership in South Korea about the continual curfew violations, was interesting — and yet sad. The story clearly outlines a long, ongoing problem of a lack of leadership within the U.S. military here in South Korea.
It is sad and unfortunate for the military because many noncommissioned officers and lower-ranked leaders of the current crop of Army leadership want to be “good ol’ boys” with today’s soldiers. The leadership in South Korea continually gives curfew violators a slap on the wrist, even though the curfew violators are breaking a direct order issued by the U.S. commanding general in South Korea.
Some of today’s soldiers are dedicated wholeheartedly to being soldiers, but other soldiers only want to be “civilians in uniform” for the benefits without wanting the accompanying responsibilities, and they lack the maturity of being soldiers. This lack of responsibility and maturity flows over to the subject of curfew violations in South Korea.
Gen. Thurman needs to “drop the hammer” on the curfew violators, and make it either an easy or a hard lesson to learn once and for all. The punishment should be tailor-made to fit the violation. Gen. Thurman should start court-martialing soldier curfew violators and make it a permanent part of their personnel folder.
Article 15s are not doing the job of fixing the curfew violations problem. It would be a sure thing after only a couple court-martials happening that soldier violators in South Korea would immediately “get the word” about the seriousness of breaking curfew.
In the article, USFK spokeswoman Jennifer Buschik states that “the chain of command within the components ... enforces discipline and investigates and adjudicates each incident as appropriate.” Adjudicates, meaning to decide legally. Evidently the “appropriate” wording is “not appropriate” enough to get the curfew violations curtailed. Right now, the current “softie” punishments are not working.
Perhaps Gen. Thurman should move the beginning curfew an hour ahead and begin the curfew at 10 p.m., instead of 1 a.m. Of course, opponents to this suggestion would howl it’s unfair. Then, too, when I was in the military, NCO leadership were required to perform bed checks to ensure everybody was back on post, on time. Perhaps bed checks should make a comeback here in South Korea.
U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan, South Korea