Teens Serving America: We are pleased to have Ken Hartman join us to talk about his organization which honors young people who decide to enlist in the military.
Air Date: 01/11/2017
Guests: Ken Hartman, Our Community Salutes
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Transcription note: As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.
Welcome Ken Hartman
Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture! This is WallBuilders Live! Where we’re discussing today’s hottest topics on policy, faith, and culture all from a Biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective. When you get it from those three angles put together and you’re going to get the right answer to any issue.
Your hosts are David Barton, America’s premier historian our founder and president here at WallBuilders, Tim Barton, national speaker and pastor, and my name is Rick Green, former Texas state representative.
One of the things that we talk about a lot with our with our military and frankly even with those that are serving us in other ways is rendering honor to whom honor is due.
When Does A Hero Become A Hero?
Well, sometimes honor is due in ways that we haven’t thought about. That’s one of the things we’re going to talk about today. Certainly, when you render honor whom honor is due, military folks go right in there.
As a matter of fact, there’s a quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln said, “A nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure.” That’s a good quote!
And that can also mean Founding Fathers. We don’t we don’t honor our Founding Fathers who were heroes then we’re not going to last long. So the nonsense we have out there about moving people away from our history, American history. And saying America’s everything is bad, and anything ever happened bad in the world came out of America. That kind of stuff. If we won’t honor our heroes we will not long endure.
But certainly as a category of that heroes is military. And honoring the military becomes very significant and I think the nation has made really good strides in that over recent years that we now really do honor these guys well.
As guys came back from 9/11 there was no spitting on them like there was out of Vietnam and other times when the military was really unpopular. There’s been some attempts to to protest ROTC’s on campus but nothing like it used to be.
So there is a growing respect in the nation for honoring its heroes. But when does a hero become a hero? I mean when does a military veteran become a hero? Is it after they’ve finished and retired? Or is it while they’re still in? Or is it before they go in? I mean, when do you start honoring a military hero?
Honoring College Age Military
We almost always think of it when they’re in in uniform, certainly. And training our kids and everything that go up and thank them and say, “Thank you for your service.” And then of course, we do a lot of you know Veterans Day and different thing for those that have served before. So those two for sure.
Well, how about kids that when they graduate from high school they’re not going to get a four year scholarship somewhere? And they decide they’re going in the military. They’ve decided they want to go become a soldier, a sailor, an airman, or a Coast Guard. Do we do anything for those kids? Because that’s- they’ve now made a key decision. And they’re about to enter the biggest meat grinder of their life. And that is going into military boot camp, etc.
And so it’s not like we’re you can go off to college and party which you know there’s still a lot of social scene even with kids going to college now. But that’s been part of college for a long time. It’s not quite that way in the military. Do we do anything special for those kids? You know we honor the kids that get scholarships somewhere when they’re going to college and they’re going on an art scholarship, or a science scholarship, or on an athletic scholarship. How about military guys?
Yeah. The military, you don’t really get to skip class in the morning.
Yeah. that’s right. You can’t stay and sleep in.
Only 1% of Americans Serve in the Military
You stayed out. You had a party. You were drinking. “I’ve got a hangover. I am going to sleep in this morning.” No, 4:30 comes kind of early. 5:00 in the military and it’s time to get up and get your PT going. And certainly the thought of giving honor to whom honor is due, what they are committing to do is leaving high school and joining the military is something very honorable. And that should be something…
And only 1% of Americans serve in the military. So we’re talking about a small elite group of kids that want to serve their country and have made the decision, “I’m willing to lay my life down for you. I don’t know what is entailed in that, yet. But I’m willing to make a decision that I may give my life for you.” And we don’t honor those kids? That doesn’t seem smart. Tim’s right. It’s a whole different world in the military.
I think the only time I’ve seen, even in like a graduation, if a kid got into maybe West Point or one of the other academies. I’ve seen them be honored. But that’s about it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen those that are enlisting be honored at that point when they first go in.
And you need the guys at the Academy. They’re going to become officers. But you also need the guys that are not going to become officers. The guys that are the foot soldiers. And you know we interview these guys all the time on WallBuilders Live. These veterans, foot soldiers, privates, corporals, sergeants, and NCO’s and those are the guys who give so much to the rest of us.
So we heard about this program that’s out there where they’re honoring these kids now. It’s a great idea. And it’s something that everybody can do in their own community.
Well in fact, the founder of it, Ken Hartman, will be our guest today. So stay with us. You’re gonna enjoy hearing about this. It’s going to give you a great action item. A fairly easy, action item, that can make a big difference in your community as well. Stay with us You are listening to WallBuilders Live!
Hey guys this is Tim Barton with WallBuilders. And I know you hear my dad and Rick talk a lot about our Founding Fathers about the original intent of our nation, a constitutional heritage that we have. And really we’ve seen how far we slipped away from that. And I know a lot of us as we hear my dad and Rick talk think, “I wish there was a place that I could go where I could see these documents and I could read and learn about the Founding Fathers firsthand. See the things they did.”
I want to give you some websites today that can help you accomplish that very thing. If you get online you can go to places like Library of Congress and you can look under their century of lawmaking or historical documents. You can go to the Avalon Project, to the Founders Constitution, Google Books, or even the internet archives.
Or you can just go to WallBuilders.com. We have a section for our library. And under that section we have different subgroups for historical documents, historical writings, even a place where you can get helpful links to find out more information about other websites. Where you can do research for yourself and find the truth for yourself. Friends, this is the time that we need to know who we are and where we came from. WallBuilders.com is a great place to go.
What Can I Do?
Welcome back! Thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live. Really cool program today. We’re talking about a fantastic forum that you can be part of. You can actually bring this to your community. We’re always getting calls and e-mails, “What can I do?”
Your ears are about to perk up. Right now, we’re going to talk about Our Community Salutes and we have the founder and president right here with us today, Dr. Ken Hartman. Dr. Hartman, thanks for joining us!
Rick, it is an absolute pleasure to be with you and your listeners.
I love what you’re doing. Now you have chapters across the country. You started this just right there in your own community. Were you on the school board there in your community?
Yeah, I was on the school board and I was at my first graduation ceremony. The kids were coming across the stage. I was shaking their hand. I asked them what they were doing. They were telling me I am going to this college or that college. The time I was president of a University in Philadelphia.
Every now and then you hear kids say, “I’m going off the army. I’m going to the Marine Corps.”
I asked our superintendent, “How many of our kids went off military?”
He said, “Ah, just a handful of them.”
And I said, “What do we do for those kids and their parents?”
He said, “What do you mean?”
I said, “Kids go off to college with all sorts of rituals and ceremonies. But what about the 1% of our kids who are going off to defend their nation? What do we do?”
He said, “ Well, we don’t do anything.”
Honoring High School Graduates For Their Decision To Serve
I thought it was just us. But when I looked around my community, in my state, nobody was doing anything. So in 2009, I had my first dinner. Out of all the kids in our county all the services. Understand I was in the military. But I was ROTC. I was going off to college.
These are the kids that are leaving right out of high school. The 1% of high school kids. From that one ceremony the Army did a story on it. The next thing you know I get a woman in Pittsburgh saying, “Hey can you help us do it here?” Another story by the Navy.
And now nine years later we’re in twenty three states, 50 locations. We estimated this past spring we we think somewhere around 15,000 high school seniors. And literally hundreds of thousands of their family members at the ceremonies.
I love it. So tell me about the ceremony itself. I mean this is a chance for you guys to honor them before they actually serve. You’re saying, “Hey, thank you for making the decision to serve. Thank you for being willing to give up some of the best years of your life or invest some of the best years of your life in our freedom.” I mean they’re going to serve us.
Ceremonies To Say, “Thank You”
Absolutely. Our model was the first to say, “Thank you.” While they’re on active duty, or while they’re in the Reserves, or National Guard, there’s going to be multiple people buy them a cup of coffee, thank them at the airports. That’s all well and great. We like that.
But the reality is that these young men and women when they go on the boot camp they’re going to be faced with all sorts of challenges. That may be in boot camp. That may be in that first village in Afghanistan.
Well, they’re going to wonder whether or not they made the right decision. And when you come to these ceremonies some are small as a hundred. Some are as large as ten thousand. When you’re surrounded by community leaders and veterans and elected officials and they all came out for that one day to say, “Thank you for your decision to serve.” They will go into that environment. They’ll go into that boot camp knowing that their community is behind them.
And you know Rick, I mentioned this earlier to you. Why is so important to them, but it’s so important to us as a nation. Because every one of those young men or women will take an oath of office like many of us did in the past. And they are going to agree to defend our nation against all enemies both domestic as well as foreign. And if we’re going to expect these kids to understand the Constitution and then to defend the Constitution when they’re in a very difficult position we better say thank you as they go out the door the first time. And that’s really what we’re all about.
Is There a Chapter In My City
I watched some of the videos on your website. And one of the young men he said exactly what you’re talking about. He said, “Look, this confirmed everything that I was feeling and thinking about my decision and made me all the more excited about serving.” I mean it’s obvious how important it is.
It’s sad that we haven’t been doing it. I mean I’m thinking about my own community and and frankly all of our listeners I’m sure are thinking the exact same thing. And they’re wondering is this happening in my hometown or not. And you can go to the website OurCommunitySalutes.US and you can click on the map. And it’ll show you where all the all the chapters are.
You know a lot of people might think, “Well man, you said you know thousands of people were there. I can’t pull something like that off.”
To start it, the first one you have might have you know, 100 people there or 50 people there. It might only be one kid from your community. But that’s the way you get started.
Absolutely. We’re all volunteers. We do not accept any federal money. In fact, that’s one of my rules. You cannot accept any federal money because it’s my belief that it’s not the federal government’s job to thank these kids and their parents. It’s the community’s.
So what we do is we encourage them. We give them everything they need. All the materials, all the instructions. We help them, connect with the recruiters in the community. And we help them find speakers.
The “them” that you’re talking about. Of course is someone that right now is listening in and thinking, “ I want to get this started in my community but I don’t know where to start.” And you’re saying you’ll hold their hand. You’ll give them everything they need to get this started for the kids that are going to be enlisting this year. Graduating this year in May. So it’s 4-6 months away. Whatever it is. Got plenty of time to get organized and make this thing happen.
Will Help You Get A Chapter Started
Now’s the time to reach out to us. To come to our website and indicate that you have an interest. All you need is really four or five dedicated people that are willing to work for the next three or four months to get this thing off the ground. We will help you.
I just got off the phone the other day with a woman who said, “I want to do this big dinner like many of our ceremonies.” I said, “No, no, no. You don’t need to do a big dinner. Many of our ceremonies are are just moms and dads cooking and making pasta or having cookies and coffee. Because the kids and the parents will never ever remember what they ate that evening.”
We will provide you with the menu. What you need to do. And put you up on our website. And again, oftentimes we will find you a mentor in your community, in your state who will work with you as well. So it just takes dedication and understanding and commitment to these kids and their moms and dads who often feel like second class citizens when it comes to their child. Because their kid’s not going off to college right away. And we’re going to change that.
Exactly. Everybody’s conversation is typically, “Where did you decide to go to college?” Here is the most important thing they could do. Go out and serve their country and protect us. And we don’t honor them enough.
We do think about it after their serving. But I just I love the concept. You’ve proven it. It’s needed. The impact is already there. It’s not a new idea. You’ve been doing this–what– eight, nine years now?
Start Making a Difference In Your Community
This will be our ninth year. And again, we rely on both local as well as national supporters. We don’t take any government money. Don’t want any government money.
What we do need is people’s prayers and we need the resources. So if you’ve got viewers and listeners out there who are printers, we need printers to do printing shop. If you have got webmasters, we could always use help on our websites. We are really a grassroots organization. And we want to keep it that way.
Ken Hartman, With OurCommunitySalutes.US
Alright folks. Lots of action items you could take somewhere. In that you heard a place where you can make a difference. You heard where you could step up. Maybe your local company can can volunteer food, a location, a printing, or whatever it might be.
Go to the website OurCommunitySalutes.US. You can make a donation on the website. You can sign up to be the one to coordinate in your community. And get this started for those students in your community that are going to be going into serve this year in 2017. Don’t wait. Don’t put it off next year. Let’s do it right now.
Such a great opportunity to make a difference. Ken Hartman, appreciate you man! Thanks so much for doing this and thanks for telling our listeners about it!
God bless, Rick. Thanks very much. Appreciate your help.
Stay with us folks. We’ll be right back with David and Tim Barton.
Bring A Speaker To Your Area
Hey, this is Tim Barton with WallBuilders. And as you’ve had the opportunity to listen to WallBuilders Live, you’ve probably heard a wealth of information about our nation, about our spiritual heritage, about the religious liberties, and about all the things that makes America exceptional. And you might thinking, “As incredible as this information is, I wish there was a way that I could get one of the WallBuilders guys to come to my area and share with my group.”
Whether it be a church, whether it be a Christian school, or public school, or some political event, or activity, if you’re interested in having a WallBuilders speaker come to your area, you can get on our website at www.WallBuilders.com and there’s a tab for scheduling. If you’ll click on that tab, you’ll notice there’s a list of information from speakers bio’s, to events that are already going on. And there’s a section where you can request an event, to bring this information about who we are, where we came from, our religious liberties, and freedoms. Go to the WallBuilders website and bring a speaker to your area.
Teens Serving America
Welcome back. Thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live. Thanks to Ken Hartman. Thanks for his great organization. And a good place for you to plug in as well. We will have a link today at WallBuildersLive.com so you can find out more and maybe get it started in your community.
We’re back with David and Tim Barton. Guys, really cool. You’re talking about honoring these kids right at that point. When I say kids, I mean they’re adults, 18. They have made that tough decision. And I love the idea of them being reinforced basically knowing they made the right call. People do appreciate that I’m going to go serve our country.
There’s a Bible verse I’ve used with young people for a long time and it will always fit. It is 2 Peter: 110. And that Bible verse says, “If you make sure of your calling you’ll never fall.” And it’s the kind of thing that if you can confirm in them what they are and what they want be.
“I’m going to be a scientist.” Great, you get that confirmed. You get that in your gut, in your heart. You make sure of that and you will get it done. Just spend all the time you need.
“I want to be a doctor.” Great, that’s an extra four years of study beyond what you’re going to do in school. But you get that call and you confirm that you’re not going to fall. You will stay with it.
Well, the same thing with his military kids. If they said, “You know, I think I know what it is. I’m going to join the Army, or the Air Force, or Navy, or whatever.” You need to confirm that call. And one of the ways you can do that is reinforce it to them and say, “Man what a great decision you’ve made here.”
Reinforcing Their Calling
This is a decision he can’t decide, “You know I’m going to change my major. I’ve decided I don’t want to be a science major anymore. I’m going to be a music major.” You don’t get that choice. For the next three years you belong to the government. And so you really do want to reinforce those kids and help them confirm their call. And if you do that, it is such a difference for them.
And I would think it’s a really big deal for the parents, too. It’s something that parents now get a little recognition for what their child is doing. Because you know, so often as a kids getting ready to go to whatever university they’re going to. And we’re celebrating. Even as we talked about in the interview, and so often it’s overlooked as they join the military.
But now for the parents to feel like we’re having a celebration and people are recognizing what my son or daughter is doing. So not only is it special for the recruit going into the military but now for the parents also. They have something they can celebrate with family, invite friends and do something. And especially now, if it’s something that is not out of their pocket even more a blessing for them.
God Trains My Hands For War
Especially, too, if it’s coming from a Christian. Like if I was talking to these kids. I’d say, “Hey let me remind you about Psalm 144:1 Psalm 144:1 says, ‘Praise be to the Lord my rock who trains my hands for war and my fingers for battle.’”
And I’d say, “Kids you need to know that this is a calling of God. This is something God will help you do. He’s going to give you a special skill to be a soldier. Just like there are special skills for painters. And there are special skills for writers. You have this desire in your heart to be a soldier because God put it there and he’s going to help you. You have a gifting and ability. You’re 1% of the population. You have a gift in that ability. God will train your hands for war and your fingers for battle.”
This is a really good deal. And particularly with kids and parents I would really enforce that to him. That this is a God call. And it’s not just a choice, a career choice. This is a God calling. And what you’re doing for the rest of us, we need to appreciate. And by the way we’re going to show that appreciation while you’re graduating instead of after you get out of the military.
It’s also going to send a signal and a message to the community that we appreciate this sort of thing. And hopefully encourage other young people that God’s got that calling on them. And that would be a great way for them to find out.
We are going to take a quick break. We’ll be right back with David and Tim Barton. Stay with us.
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Action Steps to Help Save the Country
Hey we’re back here on WallBuilders Live! Thanks for staying with us. So, David, Tim, you know, like you were saying before, I mean this is a great reinforcement for that student. And as I’ve said it before the break, also for other people in the community to recognize how important this this service is. If people are looking for a way to make a difference and an action step they can take to help save the country. It’s a great way to do it.
This is a great way to do it. It’s easy to do. And you’ll find that people will want to do it with you. Because this is a culture time where we do honor military folks. They’ll say, “What a great idea. I’ll help you do that.”
And so as Ken said it only takes a handful people, 3-5 people, and they’ll hold you by the hand and take you through the process of how to do this. Ken made a statement, however, I thought it was kind of humorous when he said it.
He said, “You know these kids will wonder about whether they’ve made the right decision.” And I laughed about that because I don’t think they’ll wonder. I’ve got a kid who’s going to make sure that they’re going to wonder about that. I mean that’s what boot camp is. He’s a senior drill sergeant at boot camp. He’s going to make sure you wonder whether you made the right decision. And you’re going to be convinced for about 3 months that you made the wrong decision. And you’re going to want the heck out of town.
Brokenness Is Needed
It’s all about breaking them down. And when I thought about that and thought about what drill sergeants do and what they did to these kids. And you know I’ve been to several graduations of these various classes and I get there sometimes when the classes are just going and watch what they do And it’s all about breaking these kids down.
It reminded me of something that George Barna, a book he did. We were talking about it. And he, as I recall, he laid out like 10 steps in Christian life. Step 1 is a baby Christian and step 10 is a mature Christian. And that’s kind of the John 15:16 Christian where Jesus says, “I’ve ordained that you bring forth fruit and that your fruit remains. I want you to be really, really, really productive.”
And as Barner has done all this research and done all of these studies. It turns out that about 90 percent of Christians never get past level 7. They never get up to the really mature stage.
He said, “You know what we found was the key?” The one thing that caused you to become a mature Christian, he said was brokenness. If you did not go through a period of brokenness in your life you will not become a mature Christian. At some point, you have to be broken.”
And I remember the Scripture that Jesus used in Matthew says, “Well, you got a choice here. You can fall on the rock and be broken ( meaning himself ) or the rock is going to fall on you and you’ll be crushed to powder.” So it’s always better to voluntarily have brokenness. But that’s what the military does. It makes you have brokenness. And then after that they rebuilt you into something that’s useful for the country.
Fall On The Rock
They make you a soldier. They put you to a place where NOW you can—you’ve been a dumb, 18 year old kid. You thought you were smart. We’ve just shown you you don’t know anything. But now you’re about to become something. That level of brokenness.
But when Ken said that. They’re going to wonder about whether they made the right decision. Yeah, they’re going to wonder about that for the first 3 months after they get in wherever they’re going. Because that’s what boot camp is all about. But that brokenness and you know maybe the rest of us can learn from that and say, “Hey, if we voluntarily fall on the rock as Jesus talked about Matthew then maybe we can become more productive.” But if you don’t get to a point of brokenness where you break yourself up and break your will and break your selfishness out of you, you’ll never be productive.
Another thing with brokenness, too, is. Until you’re broken, you can’t be molded back to where you need to. But also that there’s not a teachableness. If you think you know everything, that’s why these drill instructors are up in their face and they’re yelling and you know just berating them, tearing them up one side, down the other. Because they have to help them understand you don’t know what you think you know.
Now and that’s not to say that there’s not 18 year olds that haven’t studied and worked. And you know whether they are some kind of high school ROTC and they’ve been working and doing things-
Every one of these kids made a good score to get in. They had to do the ASVAB. And so they all got a good score. They Are smart kids.
Visit Our Community Salutes
Well, and what I’m saying, even on that scale, there could be some that are better prepared than others. Right? Some that already know. That this is God’s calling on my life.
Nonetheless, you have to come to a place where you are teachable so you can learn what you need to learn, to become who you need to become. Well, the military certainly does that.
But you’re right. That’s also true in the Kingdom of God. That we need to be very teachable people. And as a teachable person you can learn. You can be taught to have a great marriage. You can be taught to be a great parent, to be a great spouse, to whatever it is. But you’re generally not very teachable if you haven’t come to the place of brokenness where you realize I need help. I need outside input. I need something other than me to help with what’s going on. Which is part of that brokenness is about.
And that brokenness is going to happen to these kids. But the thing to do is reinforce them ahead of time. Again going back to 2 Peter 1:10, help them make sure they’re calling. And if they do that they won’t fall. They’ll have a vision they can set.
We urge everybody to go to Ken’s website and get this done in your own community. You know he’s got chapters now across the country. They’re in different states. But it needs to be in every community. Where that one of those kids says, “Hey, I’ve decided to serve my country in the military.” Man we need to honor them at that point when they make that decision. And then they graduate and go into the military.
Thanks for listening today folks! You’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live.