April 26, 2018
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Service Over Celebrity

A thought-provoking, if not entirely accurate, post has been making the rounds on Facebook. It should make us all think about where we devote our attention.

The post essentially reads: “Lindsay Lohan, 24, is in the news because she’s a celebrity drug addict. Justin Allen, 23, Brett Linley, 29, Matthew Weikert, 29, Justus Bartett, 27, Dave Santos, 21, Chase Stanley, 21, Jesse Reed, 26, Matthew Johnson, 21, Zachary Fisher, 24, Brandon King, 23, Christopher Goeke, 23, and Sheldon Tate, 27 are all Marines … that gave their lives this week to protect our freedom. With no media attention.”

It turns out they aren’t all Marines, but they were all in the military. They died in Afghanistan in July, not in recent weeks.

That aside, the posting should prod discussion of what is wrong with a society that values “celebrity” over service.

Gallons of ink have been devoted to chronicling Ms. Lohan’s saga. Even worse is the attention paid to “celebrities” who are “famous” by virtue of the attention lavished on them by the public and the media, not for any talent or skill.

Meanwhile, military personnel, like the soldiers named in the post, may be doing truly heroic things. They, of course, would never seek attention and gratitude. But, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give it to them.

So, belatedly, here is a little.

Justin Allen, an Army Ranger, was a high school athlete in Ohio who was to be married in November. Brett Linley, a member of the British Royal Logistic Corps, was killed clearing explosives; he had cleared 100 bombs in five months.

Matthew Weikert, an Army sergeant from Jacksonville, Ill., was killed by an improvised explosive device. Justus Bartelt, whose name was misspelled in the Facebook post, was a Marine from Illinois.

Dave Santos, a Marine from Saipan (a U.S. territory in the Pacific), leaves a wife and son. He was allegedly killed by a fellow Marine. Brandon King, an avid gamer from Florida, was killed when his unit took small arms fire.

Christopher Goeke, an Army infantry officer from Minnesota, died in an insurgent attack. Sheldon Tate enlisted in the Army just weeks after the 9-11 attacks. He died leading a paratrooper to safety.

One roadside bomb in Afghanistan took four of the men: Chase Stanley, of Lake Berryessa, Calif., enlisted in the Army with two friends after high school. Army Spc. Matthew Johnson was a highly decorated soldier from Maplewood, Minn. Zachary Fisher, of Alton, Mo., talked of being a soldier as a young child. Jesse Reed, the vehicle’s driver, was soon to be a father for the second time. A good friend of his from high school was seriously injured in the blast.

May they, and the thousands of other soldiers killed since 9-11, rest in peace.

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