The Long-Term Result of the War on Poverty vs. American Exceptionalism


by Allen West

Today I spoke to students at Lucy Laney High in Augusta, Georgia. But right now I find myself in the world-renowned Colonial-style Willcox Hotel in Aiken, South Carolina — in the Churchill Suite, can you believe that? Sir Winston Churchill visited here and I am sitting in his namesake suite. Doggone America is something else.

The contrast between my morning and afternoon struck me — but it also reinforced to me the exceptionalism of our beloved Republic, and what can be achieved.

At Lucy Laney High, I spoke to the JROTC students and others. The Army JROTC instructors at Laney are LTC Murphy and Chief Warrant Officer 3 (CW3) Flournoy, with whom I served on active duty at Ft. Bragg. They are impeccable role models for these young people. LTC Murphy has been there for some 16 years.

I could tell my presence was not pleasing to some — especially when LTC Murphy introduced me to the principal and her closing sentence to me was, “you got one hour.”

Well, one hour for me with young people is more than enough. Having been brought up in the inner city myself it is imperative for me to give back and be an example — a positive one — for young people, especially black kids.

I talked about where I was from and the difference high school JROTC had made in my life. I spoke to them about making choices and that every decision comes with a consequence. We talked about the three things that no one can take away from you: honor, integrity, and character — only you can surrender them.

One question from a young man was especially memorable when he asked, “Do you believe that your personal life has an impact on your everyday life?” My response was of course it does and I also explained how your image leads people to develop certain perceptions of you, often without you even opening your mouth.

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