Alex Becker is a member of the first graduating class of Barnegat High School. Last Tuesday, young Alex shed his well-earned cap and gown for a new uniform. The uniform of his country.
The draft was eliminated in the late 1960's. American young people now enter our armed forces as volunteers. These young patriots are the backbone of our national defense. God only knows where the USA would be were it not for the Alex Beckers of our world.
By now Alex has experienced the "joy" of the drill instructor waking him from bed in the middle of the night by banging a baton around the rim of a garbage can. By now Alex has also been thrust into a communal environment with his brother enlistees who come from all across the landscape of our country and are diverse in race, religion and other factors.
Basic training was never meant to be a picnic. It is a time-tested ritual designed to downplay a person's individuality and train them to realize that they must learn the art of teamwork if they are to survive in a military environment.
ET also enlisted; albeit in the United States Air Force. Hell, we did it just about at the same age Alex Becker did. On the third day of basic training we were wondering just what in the name of hell we had gotten ourselves into.
The Chaplain addressed our squadron on the third day at the dust bowl of Lackland Air Force Base. "Basic training will be one of the best times of your life - when you are through with it!" espoused the good Padre. Those remarks were the gospel.
The six years ET spent in uniform were some of our best years. ET knows Alex will come to feel the exact same way.
But today's column is not about rusty old war stories. Today ET writes to emphasize the glory and majesty of Alex Becker's dedication to his country and his service to you, me and every other American.
Recently the name of Michael Phelps adorned television screens around the globe. We were captivated by young Master Phelps's achievement as he shattered Mark Spitz's Olympic swimming record.
However, Phelps is an athlete. Not a hero.
Phelps became an instant multi-millionaire the minute he won his last gold medal. His name and likeness will adorn cereal boxes and underwear advertisements.
Alex Becker and his comrades wait for our government to give them the basic right of their vote in elections, equitable veterans benefits and a salary that fairly compensates them for the risks they take in defense of the freedom that allows the Michael Phelps of this nation to dive into swimming pools without a dictator's blessing.
The U.S. Navy just got themselves a stand-up young man. A young man who is strong in spirit and soul. A young man named Alex Becker who has his head on straight and will prove to be a leader in the truest sense of the word.
Alex Becker comes from grade-A stock. He is the son of Mrs. Lisa Becker. Mrs. Becker has devoted herself to the people of Barnegat. She is a champion of our constitution proving it by creating and editing The Barnegat Press. Mrs. Becker currently serves all of us as the Vice President of the Barnegat Board of Education.
And she does so with honor and dignity.
ET wishes Alex Becker Good Hunting and God Speed. We consider Alex a giant. In a world where so many people idly place an American flag on their home but do not even take the time to vote, Alex Becker stands out from the crowd.
Alex Becker. One of ET's Real American Heros.