A lesson in vigilant civics

I have never made it a secret in this blog how I feel when the nation is in jeapordy. I have in the almost year I have opened this blog attempted with some small sucess to remain on the topic of monarchism. There are times when "the best laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft a-gley". This is one of those times. I am reproducing an article which appeared in the Baltimore Sun yesterday 27 Mar 2008. It concerns a fellow (former)Marine. I have never met this Marine; we were stationed at the same duty station, Marine Barracks Sigonela Sicily, albeit several years apart. I was and remains my favorite duty station. When I was stationed there it was a platoon sized unit, which numbered about 40 Marines (a platoon), and had grown by the time George Tarburton, to near company size. It was and is a small fraternity. we depended on each other to watch our back, in the "'ville" or at the "site".

One thing which is drilled into the head of a Marine is Duty, and Honor. If you are not offended by the story below you should be. George Tarburton did not do what he thought was right, he did what he knew was right. My former Sergeant-Major Maxmillian Swartenbach would say to me, "Gunny, Right is right, and wrong is wrong. It takes moral courage to do what is right, so those with physical courage can do what needs to be done. Anyone can have physical courage, but it takes a man to have moral courage." While we are at war, we have politicians here at home who desire power so much and are so unwilling to stand up for what is right that they turn their back on the average citizen. These are moral cowards. They are also beneath any contempt.

A Lesson in Vigilant Civics

Dan Rodricks
March 27, 2008

I do not know if we still have civics teachers in Maryland - or if they are called that anymore, or if teachers even have time to introduce the concept of citizenship to their students - but, if so, I think they should consider the Tarburton lesson plan. It went over big at a high school in Massachusetts, leading to a great class discussion about the need for vigilant citizenship, the honor in personal sacrifice and the importance of acting on principle for the greater good.

Robert M. Bell, chief justice of the Maryland Court of Appeals, serves as honorary chairman of the Maryland Center for the Study of History and Civic Education, which promotes teaching initiatives in those subjects. The organization lists lesson plans on its Web site. Judge Bell and the other dignitaries associated with this group might want to add Tarburton to the list.

It goes like this:

George Tarburton, a veteran Maryland Transportation Authority cop, lost his job because he blew the whistle on security lapses in the port of Baltimore during a time when the federal, state and city governments had made homeland security a priority. Unable to get his superiors to attend to what he considered problems - dilapidated fences, malfunctioning alarms, busted surveillance cameras, unattended gates, patrol boats hardly ever used - Tarburton assisted a Sun reporter with a newspaper expose. After his superiors identified him as the Sun's source, they accused Tarburton of violating his department's rules and offered him resignation or dismissal.
Tarburton chose resignation.

Now, two years later, he regrets signing off on this job and the right to reapply for it.

He feels he had acted in the public interest and that a vindictive superior railroaded him out of a job he had for 17 years.

With a new governor in Annapolis, Tarburton has asked to have his old job back, or one similar. However, the O'Malley administration has done nothing to correct the injustice, and Tarburton remains a classic example of the whistleblower hung out to dry.

In Massachusetts, one of his old Marine Corps buddies, Paul Jancewicz, was outraged when he caught wind of Tarburton's dilemma.

Jancewicz teaches history and law at Amesbury High School in Massachusetts, north of Boston. He presented Tarburton's story to his students as a lesson in citizenship.

"I asked my pupils what they thought was correct - saving a job or putting forth the truth for the betterment of society, for security," Jancewicz wrote in an e-mail. "Most students were amazed that a person could be fired for questioning authority. This from the same students who no longer find critical thinking in the curriculum, as test scores seem to now trump such things.

"While they were generally upset to learn that you can be fired for telling the truth, all in all it has been a great learning experience for them - unfortunately, at the expense of a man of integrity, who listened to his inner voice and paid a high price for it."

Jancewicz suggested his students write about the Tarburton case - in part to comfort his old Marine Corps comrade.

"I did not lead my pupils to write what they wrote of the Tarburton Travesty, as I now call it," he added in a subsequent e-mail. "I introduced it as the Tarburton Affair - and I read to them the bare bones of the situation. Within the law course I offer up the need to have an open mind, to see what it is to walk a mile in the shoes of another."

Here are some of the short notes and excerpts of essays written by Jancewicz's students and sent to Tarburton at his home in Dundalk.

Nicholas Eaton: "I was very happy to hear what you did because it was the honorable thing to do. One of the things that my father has always taught me is being honorable. I often get upset because I see how people have no honor and so it made me happy to hear that you did what you believed was right, though others didn't have the courage to do it themselves. I am disgusted that you were treated the way you were."

Leigha Goodwin: "I always thought that, after September 11, people would work harder to make us safe. If our country wants us to feel safe, how can they condemn you? If there are problems with our safety, we will never know it because the people who do know it will be afraid to make it better at the consequence of losing their jobs. ... You know what you did was right, and don't let anybody put you down. Things like this only make you stronger."

Danielle Almon: "Thank you for taking a stand for what you believe in. It was the right thing to do."

Samantha Standring: "Nobody had the right to punish you for speaking up for yourself as well as the country. Stay strong and don't forget - everything happens for a reason. I respect you for what you did and I know goodness will come your way."

Mike Salisbury: "Thank you for doing the right thing."

Allow me to add to this civics lesson plan by suggesting that the next round of letters go to:

Martin O'Malley, Governor, 100 State Circle, Annapolis, Md. 21401.

His Email form, may be accessed here...

And if any Maryland students want to get in on this, please, have at it.

Dan Rodricks

He can be heard on Midday, Mondays through Thursdays, noon to 2 p.m., on 881. WYPR-FM

I know that my blog is read in 29 different countries, and most of the 50 United States and the territories as well so please send a comment to the good governor of Maryland, let him know that the world is watching him.

"Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more, you should never wish to do less."

An earlier article may be found here...

Thanks and a tip of the beret to Dan Rodricks, of the Baltimore Sun.

Citation: Dan Rodricks, A lesson in vigilant civics 27 march 2008. Baltimore Sun.

Semper Fidelis.
de Brantigny (dit) Boisvert
Marine Barracks Naples Italy,
Marine Guard Det. Sigonella 1974-1976

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