Being a candidate or elected official today, whether local (school board, county official, mayor, city council, etc.), state or national unfortunately makes one a target for those who like to throw darts, second-guess, speculate or just plain play politics or sense some satisfaction in the negative.
This brings to mind two of my favorite quotations, "If" by Rudyard Kipling and "The Man in the Arena" quote by Theodore Roosevelt, which is a short excerpt from a long fascinating speech he gave in Paris, France.
They are as follows, and are meaningful to any elected official, candidate or member of their family. I recently shared this quote with my children, grandchildren and some politicians who I respect, such as my good friend Lt. Governor Peter Kinder.
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream -- and not make dreams your master;
If you can think -- and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn out tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them; "Hold on";
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings -- nor lose the common touch:
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run --
Yours is the earth and everything that's in it;
And which is more -- you'll be a Man my son!
-- Rudyard Kipling
It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.
-- "The Man In the Arena" is a passage from "Citizenship in a Republic" -- a speech given by the former president of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt at the Sorbonne in Paris on April 23, 1910.
Securing America's freedom and safeguarding its interests requires a worldwide effort. More than 325,000 of the United States' 1.5 million military members are deployed in 150 other nations around the globe. Their missions are as varied as the countries they serve in.
From drug interdiction flights over the jungles of Peru in South America to civilian outreach efforts in the colorful marketplaces of Djibouti in Africa; from satellite communications outposts in Norway to the lonely, Cold-War remnants of the Distant Early Warning system above Canada's arctic circle. And then, of course, there are the ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Sending our troops abroad to address global conflicts and national interests is hardly a new phenomenon. Since 1950, and average of 23 percent of all U.S. Service members have been stationed on foreign soil. As a percentage of total forces, the low point was 13.7 percent in 1995; the high points were 31 percent in 1951 and 1968. Today's overseas contingency of 326,000 is quite a bit smaller than the annual average of 535,540 from 1950 to 2000. Counting actual boots on the ground (or aboard ship), deployments have ranged from a high of 1,082,777 in 1968 to a low of 206,002 in 1999.
America isn't the only nation that sends its soldiers and sailors abroad, but it is by far the most prolific. U.S. global forces dwarf other international deployments such as those of Great Britain, which has 41,000 of its 217,000 active-duty military personnel abroad, and France, which sends 34,000 of its 360,000 military members overseas. Other global deployments include Germany, with 7,551 soldiers abroad; Italy and Russia with 5,000 each; Australia with 4,000; Canada, 2,900; Netherlands, 2,722; and China, 1,981.
Countries, number of troops and mission:
* Cuba, 1,015, staffing Guantanamo
* Honduras, 397, Air base
* Peru and Columbia, 118 combined, Drug interdiction
* Portugal, 705, Air base in Lajos, Azores
* Italy, 10,613, Regional air, naval support
* Egypt, 282, Multinational peacekeeping effort
* Kenya, 57, Anti-terror antiprivacy
* Germany, 56,130, Staging, NATO logistics
* Russia, 51, Joint training civic efforts
* Iraq and Afghanistan, 176,450 combined, combat deployment
* Saudi Arabia, 258, Joint training, regional air support
* Djibouti, 1,285, Training, anti-terrorism
* S. Korea and Japan, 63,598 combined, Police action, Pacific bases
* Thailand, 122, Medical research, communications
* Australia, 129, Training, support
United States overseas contingent
Breakdown of the U.S. service branches serving abroad:
* U.S. Army, 81,946
* U.S. Air Force, 71,823
* Navy, 121,864
* Marines, 49,893
Total U.S. forces stateside: 1,462,761
Seventy-nine percent is the share of U.S. troops who will spend some time deployed overseas during their military career.
-- Newsmax, May 2011
Gary Rust is chairman of Rust Communications.