The Duty of the King

Below is the substance of a speech I delivered to an assemblage of those who support our War Fighting Community, Families and Gold Star Family members. The event was held at the Hillview Country Club in North Reading Massachusetts on Sunday, the 25th of September 2017....It was also, Gold Star Mother's Day. The substance of the speech is both timeless, and applies to every Mother's Son who claims American Citizenship.

The Speech: 

I struggled to come up with a topic for this speech and largely because I have sought to keep what little time and influence I am afforded on the very narrow subject of American War Fighter Welfare; but not as it pertains to medical care or pay or re-entry into society. Those things are covered by a list of dedicated people. 


For me the greater need is to insure when this nation decides to send American War Fighters into harm’s way, it is done so with a well-defined mission removing every obstacle that might prevent them from returning home victorious and alive.


This Nation has failed to do so since the end of World War II and every one of us who have studied this subject have done little more than increase our sense of frustration as we have watched incursion after incursion saddled with the insane application of Counter Insurgency doctrine (COIN) which gives ground to the enemy while hampering the efforts of the American Fighter.


COIN battlefield logic which has been with us officially since 1940, has been a disaster of epic proportions, costing this Nation trillions of dollars in war materiel and related expenses and costing this Nation in excess of 500,000 dead and wounded while failing to deliver a single definable victory.


So how can this happen: How can something so demonstrably ill-founded with a consistent record of abject failure be as consistently at the forefront of every Administration’s mind and of nearly every sitting politician with the possible exception of one Donald J Trump?


There are easily identified reasons why we have not been able to learn from the mistakes of the past 70 plus years and I want to visit just a few:


First, the American population has become exceedingly lazy. We are self-centered and delusional both about our intrinsic value and our belief everyone owes us something. I am not speaking about our waning sense of Nationalism; no, I am speaking about individuals and our perception of self. In fact, it is this endemic narcissism that has all but destroyed our sense of pride and support of this great experiment we call the United States of America.

Second, we have accepted the perverted notion of a fluid, transitional Constitution. This radical departure from the Founder’s vision is as anathema to Constitutional definition as the suggestion that 2 plus 2 can have any infinite number of correct answers.


What the Living Constitution crowd doesn’t understand is that any move away from the perfect and complete vision of the Founders Constitution is also a move away from the very concept of the pre-existent, inviolable and sacrosanct Rights as enshrined in the Bill of Rights; even as they lean heavily upon those Rights to shout down every dissenting opinion.

Third, the majority has lost sight of the fact that they remain Free through tireless vigilance both on foreign battlefields and here at home through simple, civic, maintenance.


And Fourth, they reject the notion that they must be personally invested; standing ready to bear the burdens and costs associated with the maintenance of Freedom or else suffer the consequences of slavery if they fail.


These then, comprise the most basic expression of failure by the population as we remain dispossessed of the traits of basic Character that were fundamental in the lives of our Fore Fathers and within the genetic makeup of the average Lance Corporal in the United States Marine Corps;


By the way, forgive me for the incessant use of “We” for I recognize that many do not fit this description of desolate character, but in truth, as a society, we are defined ultimately by our least common denominator.

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

As a young Leader in the Corps I learned early on that you should never offer a criticism without a recommendation and in the spirit of that axiom, I will tell you now what I truly believe needs to change.


First we must be consistent in our efforts to educate the young within our sphere of influence that from us they will hear the truth that is becoming increasingly rejected and worse, revised.


I personally impress upon young men that they are not ready for life or the solemn duty to protect if they have not studied, voted and prayed. And that they are not ready if they are not wearing boots. You see for me, our very Nature can be expressed by something as simple as our choice of footgear.


Second; Contrary to popular opinion it does not take a Village; it takes responsible Parents.

New parents need to be encouraged to take charge of the early education of their children and to be insistent in this. Parents do not need to beg the forgiveness or permission of those populating the indoctrination mills we call the Public education system; our Children are our own, our posterity, our legacy, our survival as a Nation.


These young stewards of our progeny need to learn to do what parents and the adult community once understood; that we are the early guides of our children, identifying their natural talents and gifts, encouraging them with observations and guiding them toward the one station in life that will best exploit those talents. College is not the beginning of every kid’s life – for some, it is to their very destruction as wholesome, productive, critically thinking Americans. For a few, following their natural talents and gifting will mean, swearing an Oath, signing a contract of service and donning a uniform.


Third; they need to teach and impress upon their children that being a citizen does not mean expecting to be bottle fed entitlements for the remainder of their lives but instead becoming responsible stewards of this magnificent gift bestowed upon all of us by God and the Founders.


It means recognizing the various challenges facing the Nation, facing those challenges with a set jaw and seeking solutions.


Lastly, accepting the fact that Life is Tough and that it doesn’t suffer Fools, the morally corrupt or those with weak character.


The Founding Fathers, in their wisdom and ten years of deliberation, penned the language we see enshrined in the Constitution. In it they redefined for all time, the concept and the very definition of the King.


For the first time in the History of mankind, they established the Citizen as the King. As such, we, collectively have inherited the same responsibilities for the Nation, it’s security, fields, schools, farms, factories and the people that any King would. As the King, we select from our number those who should do our Will in our stead because like the King, we must delegate authority to others when it is not practical for us to be there.


Should we shirk this most basic of duties, we are as guilty as any King or Tyrant who abdicates his responsibilities and leaves the Kingdom unprotected or the People unsecured.

The Citizen King is also responsible for the maintenance of the Nation’s History and foundational Documents; its Museums, Edifices and Statuary. These things are physical reminders of our History – the good, the bad, the unfortunate. History is not something to be ashamed of, it is something to learn from.


Additionally, he is responsible for the care of the cemeteries filled with the lifeless bodies of better men who died with the hope their sacrifice would secure the Nation for one more generation.


Not all Americans serve in uniform, nor should they. But all American Citizens can and must serve in another way;


There are three things the good Citizen King can and must do if he is to remain a good Steward of the Nation he bears the ultimate responsibility for;


  1. Remain Educated – not just in the sciences and literature but in history and civic responsibility. Study the history of this Nation as well as the history of failed governments. Learn and then know what it is you believe.


An uneducated Citizen King, cannot make intelligent or moral decisions and lacks the information necessary to cast a meaningful vote.


  1. Debate – We have become an entirely intolerant, ignorant and uncivil society. There are those among us who believe the First Amendment to the Constitution defines, codifies and defends the Right to take to the street like a gaggle of Anarchists to scream, swear, shout down, assault and destroy everything in its wake.


I have very sad news for those ne’er-do-wells; it doesn’t.


This kind of behavior stands unchecked while the balance of society has chosen to submit to the carnage in silence rather than chancing an unsavory interaction with the Anarchists.


Historically, this kind of posture becomes the pivot point upon which civilizations turn toward self-immolation.


Know what you believe, and determine to deliver those ideas to the National debate. Be prepared to have those ideas challenged and be willing to accept that you may in fact be wrong.


We need to teach children to be thoughtful, knowing and prepared to stand for what they have learned to believe.


  1. Vote – History and the various censuses conducted over our History shows that less than 4% of the US population has ever donned a uniform.


Additionally, an infinitesimally small number of people have served in the political arena. Another roughly 3% serve as First Responders.


Unfortunately, those same censuses also reveal that less than 50% of voting aged citizens in this Nation bother to extract themselves from the potato chip strewn couch sitting in front of the TV playing Dancing with the Stars long enough to mark an ‘X’ on the Ballot next to their choice for anything, much less President.


This is remarkable considering 100% of the American population seems to have an opinion.


When the King neglects to do his duty, it is said that he has abdicated the throne and when the American citizen refuses to do this least of duties, he is guilty of abdicating his inherited responsibilities.


By choosing to ignore these three minimum requirements of duty as the King of the United States, we doom the Nation to the same fate as others that have eventually been consigned to the dusty shelves in the Library of failed civilization.


The possible failure of the Nation is bad enough but there is another cost associated with refusing to do our least duty; we place the most vulnerable in our society at far greater risk of death, injury and personal destruction.


Now you might think I am speaking of the unborn child or even school aged children. Some of you might even think I am speaking of the elderly, the infirmed, the institutionalized, but you would all be wrong.


No, the most vulnerable among us are actually the most physically fit, the most focused and in many ways, the best educated.


They are selfless and determined but most of all; trusting. I am speaking of the American War Fighter; those United States Marines, Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen and Coastguardsmen who share three things; a God-given compulsion to march into harm’s way, a signed contract to serve in that capacity for a specific period of time and who have sworn an Oath with no sunset clause.


Men and Women who are destined to serve in this way, willingly lay aside personal interests, the freedom to seek wealth, employment, a quiet life and in too many cases, even life itself; They sacrificially replace those things we take for granted and often with so little thankfulness, with one, simple thing; willingly giving over their very lives into the hands of Leadership – allowing both Civilian and Military Leaders to do with their lives as those Leaders deem fit.


When we choose not to vote or even to care enough to study up to the concerns of the day, we become complicit in whatever shenanigans government may choose to heap upon the War Fighter and here, I am speaking specifically, of COIN.


We allow men of low moral character and faulty vision to decide how America’s War Fighters can be forced to engage the enemy, governed by amoral COIN battlefield logic and Rules of Engagement that place them at undo risk. Too often, these Rules seek to defend those in the battle space who refuse to defend themselves.


I am neither conflicted nor ashamed to tell you I am first, an American.


For me, there are not 10,000 foreigners in the battlespace that are worth the life of a single American War Fighter and certainly not a United States Marine! And if there is a man seeking the Presidency who does not understand that, he is entirely unfit for the Oval Office!

This is my first motivation to vote.


I apologize for the deep nature of this message tonight, but as always, I believe it is from within the harsher messages that we can find personal redemption and National viability.

I will remain thankful, for the rest of my life, that God placed in me the burning desire to serve as a United States Marine.


There is still no other assemblage of men I would rather be surrounded by than a Company of tired, stinking, swearing Marines!


I will also spend the remainder of my life seeking the best representatives for this Nation and as a consequence, the best possible environment for those future generations of Marines to serve in.


I will end by saying this;


I have had two consistent prayers in the last several years and they have been this;


…That God would strike the heart of the electorate with an epiphany about the duties of the Citizen King; that he would burden him with such guilt for past neglect that he would not be able to sleep nor eat until he casts his necessary vote in the next election.


And lastly that God would grant me one final opportunity to fall while standing in the gap upon the wall securing this Nation; and as I lay mortally wounded upon the ground with my life’s blood oozing from my broken body, that it would be upon a bed of expended brass casings, surrounded by a sea of Digital Uniforms emblazoned with that blessed of all emblems, the Eagle Globe and Anchor!


John Bernard



First Sergeant, USMC retired


Bill Kamps Added Nov 9, 2017 - 11:38am
John, first thank you for your service.  I have grappled with the problem of how does one support the members of the armed forces, when I dont support the mission they have been given.
I would suggest that one of the big reasons that we have not succeeded in our war efforts is that the  mission has not be clearly defined.  It has not been clearly defined, because in many cases it was not definable.  What do I mean by that?  we didnt not know what we wanted the end game to be.
Sun Tsu teaches us that war is just a means of getting better terms at the negotiating table.  That means that if instead of war, you could sit down with the enemy and ask for what you want, what would you ask for ?
In the case of Iraq and Afghanistan we didnt know what we wanted.  We removed Saddam from power, but then what? then what did we want? Even the Commander in Chief had no clue, because he said "Mission Accomplished" when in fact the real war was only just getting started.  That was the civil war that began because we removed their dictator.   We still cant define what we want the outcome in Iraq to be.  
In the case of Afghanistan, no one has any idea why we were fighting there.  It started out as chasing Bin Laden, and going after terrorist training grounds, but it quickly morphed into fighting the Taliban.   We said we wouldnt negotiate with the Taliban (they are terrorists), but if we aren't going to negotiate with the enemy, how does the war end? it cant.  We cant kill them all.  Since we said we wouldnt negotiate with the enemy, and we said we werent there for nation building, why were we there and how could we tell if we were winning?
Since Viet Nam we have perpetuated this myth that we can train the local military to take over the war, so we could leave.  This has turned out to be nonsense, yet we continue to tell the US people that just a few more months, and they can take over for us.  How about ending the war so no one  has to fight?  How about reaching a truce agreement?  Starting a war and turning it over to the locals is a very cynical sort of action on the face of it.  
The US people arent invested in these wars, because we largely dont care what happens there.  We are also tired of being lied to by politicians.  What happens in Afghanistan is largely irrelevant to our daily lives.  If we say this is to prevent future  terrorists, I would say that  is false, because terrorists can and do come from anywhere.  Afghanistan is not the only source.  If we say that it is a response to 9-11, then I would say that being at war for 16 years, and spending some $4 Trillion dollars is an inappropriate response to 9-11.   In addition the Taliban and Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11, those people were mostly Saudi's, and yet we arent at war with Saudi. 
Since you believe in the Constitution I would just say that all wars since WWII have been unconstitutional because no declaration of war has been given by  Congress.   Since there was not a declaration of war, the rules of engagement have been greatly  compromised.  This has led to more casualties among our brace service people, and an inability to end  the wars in the timely manner.
Once again I thank  you for your service, but the military is being given an impossible task by  politicians who are largely ignorant of what they are doing.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Nov 9, 2017 - 11:58am
Kamps: thumbs up to your comment!
Bill Kamps Added Nov 9, 2017 - 1:07pm
Michael, I dont know that COIN was used much before Viet Nam, that I can tell.   Certainly it was in widespread use in Viet Nam, and since then. Korea may have used COIN some, but was run in a more traditional way, probably because it was on a peninsula.  
The problem with COIN is not that we dont win battles, the problem is that we dont want to hold the ground, after winning the battle.  Therefore we wind up having to fight again for the same ground.  More fundamentally it calls into question what was the battle for, and how do we know if we won?  just killing more or them, than they killed of ours is not a good measure of winning.
On the other hand, the powers in charge, concluded that holding ground would take too many troops.  Whether this was right or wrong, Im not sure.  I think this was an out growth of the limited style of war we were waging.  All wars since WWII had restrictions on the rules of engagement, what could be bombed, where troops could go, and so on. Therefore  we were not able to completely cripple the enemies ability to fight.  Since we couldnt cripple the enemies ability to fight, holding ground was difficult, therefore COIN. 
John J Bernard Added Nov 10, 2017 - 1:43am
To both of you; our modern day, official COIN doctrine was penned in 1940, by the Marine Corps in the Small Wars Manual.
Shortly after, the French found themselves ensconced in Indonesia and the Brits, in Malaysia.
By 1954, the French had suffered 76,000 dead, and many more wounded or captured....tjey also suffered a stunning defeat at Dien Bien Phu.
The Brits fought from 1948 to 1960, finally declared Malaysia cleared of Chi-Coms and, gave Malaysia 1967, the Chi-Coms were back, destabilizing the country.
Korea started and stopped in the meantime with an Armistice and eternal armed vigilance as the outcome.
We took over for the French in 1954 and abandoned the effort in 1975 with the dubious mission of evacuating the last Americans and a few collaborators from the roof of the Embassy in Saigon during the final mission "frequent wind".
We suffered 58,000 dead, 100,000 plus wounded and pulled out without resolution.
To answer your question; within COIN, we win every battle, but our political sphere and G-grade community manage to lose every war.
Iraq and Afghanistan are on track to fail because the mission was too broad and employed COIN.
How should we have proceeded? Well, we started out right, making our incursion and seeking retribution for 9/11...we lost focus in Iraq, and then entirely switched gears in June of 2009 under McChrystal; moving headlong into another COIN Op.
John J Bernard Added Nov 10, 2017 - 1:49am
Bill; the problem with COIN philosophy is that we do not seek retribution or even the cessation of bad behavior; we arrogantly seek to vanquish another man's enemy, to rebuild someone else's government, to rebuild someone else's society and economy while acting as a protector for the ungrateful....we put our men at undo risk while failing to demand a similar risk amongst those we presume to help.
You are correct; we foolishly and most likely, unConstitutionally use our sovereign Forces as some kind of Global Police Force which does little more than return us a mountain of body filled with the broken body of my only Son.
John J Bernard Added Nov 10, 2017 - 2:00am
One last point...I have written on this and Islamic Doctrine extensively at my Blog.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Nov 10, 2017 - 2:26am
Dear Mr Bernard,
I really enjoyed your article. Please, note that you can log in here at writerbeat and republish/publish any article of yours on your own. So if you have a new article in some months or in a year, feel free to share it with us.
We have active servicemen writing for WB and people who are compassionate with your ideas. There are also many who disagree. So you can argue with them.
I like the premise of your blog. I see a lot of dishonesty in politics and the rise of mercenaries/militias/dirty wars as a result of a misled sense for virtue presentation on part of our elites. This moral code display plays out in burdening rules which probably results in loss of life because murderous enemies can't be tackled effectivly enough.
John J Bernard Added Nov 10, 2017 - 11:46am
Our presuppositions about the desires of others and in this case, the tranquility of Islamic Doctrine, is what has caused this latest attempt at the historically failed COIN Op.
Our Politicians and G-grade Community/Political Commissar have all been trained to embrace this travesty of a strategy as though the holy grail.
In the end, the tightening ROE, a zealous gaggle of JAG Officers, a complicit media, and a dumb population all conspire to force our War Fighters to choose between death, or incarceration!
If only there was one shred of evidence that any effort of this type bore a success since its inception, it might be forgivable, but all we have done is to bleed out the finest of these generations, defending the indefensible!
Thanks for the info and invitation.
Mike Haluska Added Nov 10, 2017 - 12:38pm
John - let me know if you ever decide to run for office!  You have my full support!!!
John J Bernard Added Nov 10, 2017 - 1:13pm
Thanks for the moral support.
Dave Volek Added Nov 10, 2017 - 1:17pm
This was a well thought out speech. And the responses so far have been fantastic. If only we could discuss more contentious issues like this.
I'm of the belief that the American Constitution was a reasonable document for its time. But it was not a divinely inspired document for it still allowed slavery, confiscation of aboriginal territory, and less than universal suffrage. I would say that the inability of the USA to deal effectively with its foreign enemies spawns not from a misapplication of the constitution, but more from we are trying to apply a 250-year old system into a much more complex world than the system was designed. 
Regardless of the system--for Canada has a different system of democracy and faces similar problems in foreign affairs, I feel sorry for world leaders trying to sort all these complex webs, come to some kind of resolution, and manage to stay elected (or their party stays elected). It is a tough balancing act. And in the end, we really haven't come to many good solutions since WW2. We seem to be bumbling from one crisis to the next.
Another thing world leaders have to contend with is this conquer-or-be-conquered approach to foreign affairs that has plagued humanity since we started organizing ourselves into city states. True it is that today we have a softer approach using economic hegemony rather than military hegemony, but that really hasn't benefited the people of conquered nation.
And if we take a more pacifist and insular approach, we risk inviting more sinister forces to fill the void where we leave behind. If we don't want that, we have to make alliances with people and organizations that really don't share our values. And if we become too pacifist and insular, those sinister forces still operate with a conquering mentality. They will be on our doorstep, trying to "fix" us--just as we have tried to "fix" others.
As I said, being a world leader is very difficult position. So too is serving in the military where one might be called to a battle that is likely not to have a lasting and effective result. 
Mt. Moix Added Nov 10, 2017 - 2:19pm
Wow, there is a lot of knowledge to be gained here both in the original article and from those commenting on it. To John, thank you for your service and thank you for sharing your speech here. As a mother of 2 boys whom I educate at home, your writing is valuable to me personally for that reason alone, but it goes much deeper than that. I've never viewed the American citizenry in this way, and you are right on. Thank you to all for your thoughtfulness and insight.
Dino Manalis Added Nov 10, 2017 - 2:33pm
Peace through strength is essential to avoid wars!  Happy Veterans Day!
John J Bernard Added Nov 10, 2017 - 4:55pm
Dave Volek; thanks for your comments.
I am certainly not risk averse and believe in the old axiom, "there are some people that just need killing". Having said that, I do believe the Armed Forces of this Nation are, the United States Armed Forces rather than the Martial arm of the UN.
I also believe the phrase, "freedom isn't free" is a battle cry and a warning to those who seek freedom; if you want it, you have to pay for it....most of the Nation's we have wasted good American blood in since 1945, have not displayed the requisite courage to earn their freedom, and I do not believe it is our price to pay on their behalf.
John J Bernard Added Nov 10, 2017 - 4:56pm
My Moix; please feel free to peruse my Blog for more at
John J Bernard Added Nov 10, 2017 - 7:16pm
Dino; agreed
Bill Kamps Added Nov 11, 2017 - 4:04pm
John, I agree with your comments for the most part.
If we take our politician's reasoning at face value, then they are incredibly naive and arrogant.   We are the foreign policy bull in the China shop.  We go into these places, make a mess, and when we are tired of being there we leave, with the situation generally worse than before we got involved.  Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya, all arguably worse than before we got involved.
Alternatively we can assume that the military industrial complex is advocating these wars so they can continue to make tanks, and bullets.  While Im sure they support the continuation of these wars, I dont think they are picking the places and are not the initial motivation for starting the war.
Simply removing the local leader, and dismantling the army does nothing for the stability of these countries.  Why should the population be grateful? we have led to the deaths of many thousands of innocent people as they get caught in the literal cross fire, as well as the reprisals that come afterward.  After we leave, locals who  have helped us are hunted down and killed by the side we were fighting.
It is difficult for US citizens to hold the politicians accountable for these wars.  They dont declare war as required by the Constitution.  Instead they  fund these wars with amendments to other legislation that makes it difficult to pin responsibility for the war on the Congress.  People in Congress are pretty adept at dodging responsibility and avoiding simple yes/no  votes on whether to start or continue these wars.  They can always  say they didnt know the scope of what they were voting for.   Most have started by sending "advisors" to help local forces, and then they have morphed into something much  more as the local army is unable to do our bidding. 
I dont understand why  we are still in Afghanistan.  No one can explain it, and yet we dont leave.  It it logistically perhaps the most difficult place in the world for us to conduct operations.  We would laugh if the Russians invaded Bolivia, and yet have done the equivalent by invading Afghanistan.  We either have to fly in all the supplies, or cart them over the Khyber Pass.  The expense to get a simple gallon of gasoline there is insane.
Unfortunately the US citizens have lost control of the military as we have lost control of many other things that happen in Washington.  The politicians get elected by saying all the right things, then once elected they feel no obligation to do what they promised.  Even those that try to make changes find it impossible to change the foreign policy direction that has existed since the end of WWII.  Once elected various administrations all fall into line, and continue  the same failed foreign policy.   Every candidate President says they will be different, but the differences are in the nits.  Perhaps the brand of cigarettes at the PX is changed, but the troops are still in countries where they shouldnt be, doing things no one can justify because there  is no logical reason for them to be there.
John J Bernard Added Nov 11, 2017 - 4:59pm
Bill Kamp; again, I am neither risk averse nor terribly concerned with the hopes and dreams of indigenous populations when the question of US security is raised.
However, I do believe every incursion we have made since 1945 has been made unnecessarily lengthy due to wrong-headed concerns about the locals and some wrong-headed understanding of our "responsibilities" In that regard.
We entered A-stan for retribution. Once we drove the Taliban from Kabul, and had them bottled up In Tora Bora and just across the border, we should have followed through with FA Ordnance and left, wagging a finger of warning...instead, we sunk several billion dollars and thousands of American lives into a useless out of vipers and gained nothing.
Bill Caciene Added Nov 12, 2017 - 10:09pm
Regarding Afghanistan, while I can appreciate the need to make the Taliban pay for what they did, hopefully you can appreciate the desire for it not to happen again.  If we had left Afghanistan it would still be led by the Taliban and they would use the country as a breeding ground for more terrorist attacks against us.  So why not bring the fight to the terrorists and leave a force Afghanistan? 
John J Bernard Added Nov 13, 2017 - 8:03am
Bill, I have no problem with sending troops anywhere or even leaving a Unit there.
I simply have a problem with this Country insisting on tethering our War Fighters with restrictive rules which protect the indigenous peoples while placing our men at undue risk.
COIN has done nothing except fill our cemeteries. There hasn't been one single success attributable to COIN since its official inception.
Mike Haluska Added Nov 13, 2017 - 12:15pm
Bill C -
If the US fought wars using their full force, speed and capability (including tactical nuclear weapons), we would never be challenged to a fight.  All we would have to do is alert the Taliban to be watching the night sky about 20 miles north of their current position and detonate a small nuclear weapon.  Afterwards we let them know the next one's going to detonate 5,000 feet directly overhead.

Recent Articles by Writers John J Bernard follows.