Recently, I saw a picture on social media that caught my attention. It was one of thousands that were in my feed that day, but it stuck with me more than most. It was just a picture of a normal-looking guy holding up a sign. I’ll get back to the reasons why that picture was such a draw in a minute.
Before I do, I’ve got to tell you that the picture set me to thinking in a big way. Somewhere in those meditations and ruminations, I remembered a movie from 1982. This particular movie was the ultimate date flick at that time and was titled An Officer and a Gentlemen. It had plenty of romance for the date night aspect, but it also had plenty of fights and military jargon to make the guys feel like they weren’t sacrificing their manhood to watch it.
An Officer and a Gentleman starred Richard Gere, Debra Winger, and Louis Gossett Jr. Gossett received an Academy Award for his role back when that meant something special. In the film, Richard Gere played a guy named Zack Mayo who had grown up in an abusive home and had to learn to fight on the streets. Mayo was a rough-as-a-cob down-on-his-luck character who decided one day that the way out of his plight was to join the Navy, and he specifically wanted to be an Aviator. His abusive father mocked him and told him he would never make it, but he was accepted to the Officer’s Candidate School where he met a Marine Drill Sergeant played by Louis Gossett Jr.
Gossett’s character had the streetwise Mayo pegged right away and looked for every opportunity to kick him out. Mayo persevered, but he was riding a razor's edge with his street smarts keeping him on the cusp of honor violations.
The natural result was that the Drill Sergeant finally caught him and so began a weekend of unmerciful hazing, the kind of hazing that Drill Sergeants can’t do anymore because it might hurt someone’s feelings.
Then came the fateful moment with Mayo on his back doing flutter kicks and soaking wet from a combination of sweat and being hosed down. In that singular moment, the film grabbed every audience member when the Drill Sergeant told Mayo there was nothing he could do to change the fact that he was recommending he be dismissed from the course. What happened next is the reason that I’m telling you all of this.
In one of the best acting moments I’ve ever seen, Mayo dropped his façade and yelled “Don’t you do it!” The Drill Sergeant yelled back, “Give me one good reason!” To which Mayo answered with some epic emotion, “Cause I got nowhere else to go! I got nowhere else to go!”
It was the turning point in the entire storyline. Mayo realized and accepted and rebelled (all at the same time) because he saw no other options. Mayo had literally, at least as far as he knew, nowhere else to go. He saw no other options to leave behind his former life. Mayo had sunk everything into changing his dynamic and the Navy was the ticket and he was committed.
And the Drill Sergeant? The Drill Sergeant suddenly realized that he wasn’t just a gatekeeper to the profession of arms. He was in fact the gatekeeper at that moment to the rest of someone’s life.
When there’s nowhere else to go what do you do? You double down and go all in. That’s what you do.
I won’t tell you the rest of the movie’s plot except to add that it’s really worth watching if you’re looking for a weekend couch potato movie. But I also started by relating that something else I saw first reminded me of that scene. A guy on social media. Just a dude holding up a handmade sign. What the sign said was:
“This is the USA. There is no one coming to our rescue if things go sideways. No one will be resupplying us. No one will airdrop food, ammunition, medicine. There is no place to escape for freedom. This is it!”
I’m telling you it really caught my attention. Think about it. There are nations that would come to our aid to some extent, but there is no one who has the resources to assist like what we as a nation do for others. If things became untenable for some reason, how many of us believe that it would be in our best interests to cross the border into Mexico for refuge? Canada is our ally to the north, but Canada is a socialist government by and large. Besides, this is home.
In a day and age when we’ve already experienced the disaster of 9/11 and see Iran running pell-mell toward nuclear weapons, shouting all the while “Death to America,” we should be building strength and readiness. But instead, we are trapped in the throes of an administration whose chief focus with the military is to institute social justice experimentation. Meanwhile, military recruiting is in a 50-year slump and the ranks are being decimated by an ill-advised COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
How about our economic infrastructure? We currently have the most impeded supply chain in anyone’s memory, coupled with a crippling 9.1% inflation rate (the highest in over four decades). What would the recovery time be if Wall Street saw a major cyber attack right now? And for those who are already living paycheck-to-paycheck, what then?
I see the President of the United States and his progressive allies calling for the packing of the Supreme Court, combined with President Biden himself saying that none of our rights under the Constitution are absolute. This is a not unpredictable and not-so-veiled threat against the liberties that have made this nation the envy of the world.
But here’s the bottom line: this is the United States of America.
We are the country that put a man on the moon, fought and won two world wars, and is gifted with resources and strength and assets unparalleled in the history of the world. We as a nation are the world’s best example of freedom and the harbinger of better things to come. If the US went down, it would likely mean that freedom worldwide goes down with it.
There is literally nowhere else to go.
That’s why I am so ardent and passionate about the fact that we must build and strategize and build some more. We must have actual leaders in leadership positions and not just feckless electors who won a popularity contest in state and federal elections. We must always and at all times examine the laws being proposed through the lens of freedom using the measuring stick of the Constitution. We must hold true to values and principles that have made us great not because we are scared to change but because things like liberty, free markets, and faith should not ever be changed.
I get out of bed in the morning with a mission to remind myself and whoever will listen that it is okay to say that Jesus is Lord and America is great. I love living in Alabama where people still wave at strangers, shake hands and hug necks. I believe life as a whole is worth living and, by God, I will not sit idly by and just say nothing when forces, both internal and external, seek to put out the lights in the City on the Hill.
I agree with Mayo from Officer and a Gentlemen: “There’s nowhere else to go!”
I agree with that random sign guy on social media: “There’s no place to escape to for freedom. This is it!”
That’s why it’s so important that we take our stand, speak up, go to the meetings, run for office, find the best candidates, build the best school systems, enforce the laws, and at every turn make sure that we always make those decisions on the basis of liberty.
This is it. There is nowhere else to go. This is our house.
Phil Williams is a former State Senator, retired Army Colonel and combat veteran, and a practicing Attorney. He has served with the leadership of the Alabama Policy Institute and currently hosts Rightside Radio M-F 2-5 pm on WVNN. His column appears every Monday in 1819 News. To contact Phil or request him for a speaking engagement go to www.rightsideradio.org. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to [email protected].