It was the evening of September 7, 1967. A skinny 17 year old boy with curly hair was sitting with his best friend at the table in his family’s kitchen. They were talking about their plans for the night. He was leaving for his first day of college in the next few days. Halfway around the world, a freckle faced red head was finishing up a night of drinking with his buddies at a bar. As they prepared to leave, the red head began to hum. His buddies picked up the tune and soon they were all standing, singing a song that reminded them of home. The redhead was 22 years old and a Green Beret. He had dropped out of college to volunteer for the Special Forces and he had volunteered for Vietnam. Less than 24 hours later, he died–in a hail of bullets while leading an action to draw fire from the remainder of his unit and after refusing medical attention so he could call in the airstrikes that ended the engagement. I was the 17 year old boy sitting in the comfort of his family’s home. The redhead, who was awarded the Silver Star for his actions and is now buried in Arlington Cemetery, was my oldest brother. The song he struck up in the bar that night, almost half a century ago, was America the Beautiful. Over the course of the almost 50 years since that night, I have done my best to serve America and to honor the example set by my brother, by my parents, by my remaining brother and sister and the woman (now my wife) who were at home with me that night, and by the millions over the years who, like my brother, put others before themselves. Cumulatively, I have served over seven years in various non-elective capacities in every branch of our Government including, briefly, the military. A lifelong Republican, I changed my registration to Independent this past September based on the conclusion that the hyper partisanship of the two parties had made representative government under their dominance impossible. On the day after the election, I responded to a call to action from my longtime friend and now SAM Board Director Eric Grossman and, together with SAM Founding Member Peter Groome, we devised an action plan and began to draft the 13 Principles that are now the foundation of SAM. We worked on the name and branding of the organization and also began a search for others who felt as we did. Now a group of five, we brought our draft of the Principles to Philadelphia on January 28 of this year to present to a separate, much larger group assembled under another name by Chairman James Waters. Joined together as of that date, we became SAM. I am proud to be one of its Founders. A picture of the Statue of Liberty that appeared on our original website exemplifies what we are seeking to achieve. Every school child knows that the statue represents our shared heritage and our traditions of tolerance and inclusion, of freedom and entrepreneurship, of providing for others and of always looking outward and engaging the world. Facing east towards the rising sun, the picture we chose of that great Lady represents our continued optimism and our hopes for the future. But, to me, the meaning of the picture is deeper. For too long, our politicians and our parties have found safe places in the wrong places – the extremes. And now they have become dependent on the support of these extremes. SAM’s purpose is to help give rise to a new generation of leaders who understand this fundamental fact. Like the Statue of Liberty, SAM seeks to be a beacon – a beacon for a generation of leaders who want to work outside of the current two party structure. We seek to show this new generation of leaders, through our numbers and our energy, that it is safe for them to arise, safe for them to reject the extremes and possible for them to run for and win elective office and then to govern, free of the extremes that now control the two dominant parties, on the basis of principled and practical ideas that reflect thoughtful consensus and address the real problems our nation faces.
The time is right and it is now. Become a part of the solution. Join us. We are SAM.