Somewhere in the archives of TV land there is video or kineoscope or film of a few minutes in the life of President John Kennedy. I saw this piece of TV news film in 1962 and I can still recall the image and what I felt at that moment.
President Kennedy is at a military base somewhere in the southern United States. A large square platform has been placed on the ground and in the center of this platform is a large wooden chair, very substantial in appearance, throne-like in its immanence.
Kennedy is sitting in the chair. His arms rest on its arms.
A single military officer in dress uniform stands on the ground on each side of the platform; they hold a parade rest position, their eyes focused on the ground before them.
Kennedy, too, is looking frontward. He watches two men, trained in hand-to-hand combat, battle each other for advantage.
Kennedy has the look of a budding warrior-king, young Prince Hal, a man with a dream of power and empire. He is pleased with what he sees.
The TV narrator is describing Kennedy's satisfaction with the development of a Special Forces Group within the military. This is the seed bed of Delta Force.
I remember asking myself "Why does America need this?" I could find no answer. Instead I saw, no, I felt a dangerous trend, the beginning of a degenerative influence.
And so it was. Today America has a small army of highly trained combat warriors, skilled in murder, spying, explosives, torture, assassination, infiltration, disinformation, and more.
Their virtues and their value are touted in the press and by the government. We are told they keep us safe, that they are heroes.
Strange, though, is the fact that these heroes cannot be honored in the traditional way. Their deeds are so dark, so daring, we cannot see their faces, nor know their names. There IS no Hector, no Ajax, no Achilles, in 21st century America. There are only black silhouettes doing black deeds
They operate without reward, and without oversight. A dangerous combination that will slowly corrode our national soul. If it hasn't already.