By Bob Friedrich
The City Council has veered so far left that for most common sense/centrist voters, it is hard to fathom. No Council member epitomizes this off-center lurch better than Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights).
Despite the many urgent issues facing most New Yorkers today, Dromm incredibly is more focused on his non-citizen voting rights bill to allow non-U.S. citizens the right to vote in municipal elections and to oppose the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps programs in our high schools.
In such a politically charged city as ours, one might understand a politician’s support for a bill that will guarantee him more votes and secure at any cost his incumbency status. It is more difficult to comprehend Dromm’s obsession with ending the highly successful career and character-building JROTC.
Paradoxically, Dromm advocates voting rights for non-citizens while seeking to end JROTC’s good citizenship program for young citizens. It is as if Dromm still views the world through the prism of the mid-1960s, a time of mandatory military conscription. The era of the compulsory draft is long over and, just like our brave and exemplary veterans, today’s all-volunteer army should be a source of pride, not disdain, for Dromm.
When asked about his opposition to JROTC, Dromm said he has a “philosophical problem” with it. It contributes to the U.S. “war machine.”
Those of us who recently honored our veterans on Memorial Day and observed with reverence the 70th anniversary of D-Day were reminded that it was the U.S. military and the Greatest Generation that led the charge to stop the march of tyranny by the armies of Hitler and other 20th-century despots.
Joining the JROTC does not require a commitment to enter military service, which is a personal choice made by only 20 percent of its graduates. The other 80 percent become productive members of society following their own personal career paths using the skills and leadership training they received from the JROTC.
Had Dromm taken a few minutes to learn about the JROTC, he would have discovered that it is a program that imparts strong self-discipline, a sense of purpose and leadership skills that serve young people throughout their lives. It provides high school students with the opportunity to be mentored by some of the brightest and most accomplished leaders in America.
The JROTC even grants scholarships to exceptional young people, enabling them to enrich their lives with meaningful higher education that they might otherwise have been unable to afford.
Rather than working to develop policies that would correct New York City’s notoriously high student failure and drop-out rates, Dromm has chosen to focus on the more pressing issue of the day: ending the federally funded high school JROTC.
What could Dromm possibly find objectionable with the JROTC’s mission statement as reflected in its creed?
The JROTC Creed is as follows:
I will always conduct myself to bring credit to my family, country, school, and the corps of cadets.
I am loyal and patriotic.
I am the future of the United States of America.
I do not lie, cheat, or steal and will always be accountable for my actions and deeds.
I will always practice good citizenship and patriotism.
I will work hard to improve my mind and strengthen my body.
I will seek the mantle of leadership and stand prepared to uphold the Constitution and the American way of life.
May God grant me the strength to always live by this creed.
Dromm owes our veterans and the men and women in today’s military an apology for demonizing them as being part of a war machine. In a nation whose bravest citizens have fought to defend our freedoms and liberty, Dromm has chosen to use those freedoms to denigrate their defenders.
The rest of us can take solace and pride as we celebrate the July 4 holiday with the knowledge that these brave American men and women have volunteered to risk their lives and fight in battles so we may remain a free nation and a beacon to the world.
Bob Friedrich is president of Glen Oaks Village and a civic leader.