"And--Which Is More"

I don't know if there is any day in a father's life better than the one on which he sees his son become a man.

(Necessary background info: My 16 year old is a cadet in the Civil Air Patrol, an auxiliary of the Air Force. His rank is Chief Master Sergeant. The Arizona cadets are spending 11 days at "encampment", a military boot camp style program where they learn discipline, drill, attention to detail, and so forth. This year Bryant is filling the role of flight sergeant for one of the groups. He had planned to be part of the public relations staff, but they were short on sergeants, so he was tapped to fill the position. We now return you to your regularly scheduled post, already in progress at this time.)

This morning I got a phone call from my son. There was an ugly incident yesterday in his flight involving one of the cadets using racial slurs and physically attacking another cadet. Some of the guys wanted to sweep it under the rug. Instead, Bryant went to the commander and reported the incident. After an investigation, the offending cadet was sent home.

I can't begin to list the emotions I felt when I hung up the phone, the pride and joy that, even though others did not, this teenager stood alone for what was right. Without his parents to guide him. Away from home and family. He may not have become a man at encampment. He may already have become one here and I just didn't notice it in the day to day progress of life...but there is no question in my mind that, however he left, he will come home a man.

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 impostors 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 all 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


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