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All Honorable Men are From The Same Tribe

118I had the privilege of serving as a Marine sniper for two years in the Vietnam War. I was an atheist at the time but I served with some outstanding young men. We’re still friends today, over forty years later. We’ve vacationed together with our families, now with kids grown we get together, we talk on the phone; we are brothers, closer than my own.

What’s most interesting is that we’re all so different. I’m from a town of seventy-five in Ohio. One of my guys, now deceased, was a tried and true New Yorker, from Brooklyn. Another kid an Iowa farmer, a rich kid with an MBA, a rebel from Florida, a kid raised in the Hells Angels and everything in between. There were other snipers in our unit but when each of us came together in the beginning there was something different.

Now you say that isn’t too surprising after what you have been through together. But it really is surprising. We’ve all beat the odds and been married for anywhere from twenty years to me and the kid from Iowa leading the way at thirty-eight years. We had no idea what was going on at the time and really didn’t get it for many years exactly why we were different.

One day about ten or so years ago, traveling with my wife, doing some shopping, I ran across a picture of an aged Indian Chief. Now I don’t know if I am but I was raised with the story that my Grandmother on my Mom’s side, who had passed long before me, was a full blooded Iroquois Indian. I’ve never followed up to prove that but grew up being told I was of Indian descent. So I’ve always been interested in things like this picture, so I walked over and took a closer look.

At the bottom of the picture of this wise old man it read, “All Honorable Men are from the same Tribe.” That hit me like a sniper’s bullet to the gut. All honorable men are from the same tribe? I thought about it. I bought it and took it home where it has hung prominently in our living room ever since. Every time I see it I think all honorable men are from the same tribe. One day, not long after I hung it up, I got it!

I thought of my team of friends, once known as The Rogues in Vietnam. I realized that simple statement was true. When we met, something was different, while we didn’t know it – we were from the same tribe. And as I looked back over my life I could see other, more radical examples of this principle.

One of my best friends today is a Jewish high school teacher who has me down to speak to his history class. We met at a book signing six years ago and he and I couldn’t be more different. He is plain with me and his students, he doesn’t believe in war. He’s very liberal but a great person. We lined up immediately. I was mailing books at our small post office in Montana and I got to talking with the Postmaster, a lady about my age. We’ve become great friends. She was a protester in the sixties and we are on different sides of life on many things but we’re great friends.

The picture on my wall shares a profound principle we all feel when the connection is made. It is true … all honorable men are from the same tribe. It’s not about rigid positions in life; it’s about being committed to something bigger than yourself, something more profound and life enhancing. Open your eyes to a new life, the one you were meant to live.