The Way The Military Is Supposed To Work

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It was just over a month ago that Gen. James Amos, the Marine commandant, was fretting that repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” could be a “distraction” that could get his Marines killed on the battlefield. “I don’t want to lose any Marines to the distraction,” he said of openly gay troops. “I don’t want to have any Marines that I’m visiting at Bethesda [National Naval Medical Center, in Maryland] with no legs be the result of any type of distraction.”

But Marines around the world are now getting a much different message from Amos and his senior enlisted leader, Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Carlton Kent. They’re telling their Marines, in a video now being seen around the fleet, that the law has changed, and so must they. “Above all else, we are loyal to the Constitution, our commander-in-chief, Congress, our chain of command, and the American people,” Amos says, stirring music playing in the background. “I want to be clear to all Marines — we will step out smartly to implement this new law.”

The will be bumps in the road, but this tradition of saluting and promising to carry out orders — even when disinclined to do so — is part of what makes covering the military so fascinating, and unlike most other elements of American life.