MOULTRIE — U.S. Representative Jim Marshall told a packed house of students at Withers Auditorium Tuesday about the value of education and service. His theme was to not drop out of school — that getting an education is actually a service to the country as well as one’s self.
Marshall told the group of high school freshmen and sophomores he realized the need to speak with high school students about education and service about three weeks ago. It was then his son, Robert, said he wanted to join the U.S. Army and get into the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
When he was a senior in high school, Marshall said he almost went to West Point Academy to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. His father, however, told him not to enroll there if he did not want a career in the military, which he explained to Robert and looked at all of his options.
It was because of that decision that Marshall went instead to Princeton University but did join the U.S. Army while there, serving a tour in Vietnam, he said. It was the decision then after the talk with his own son that Marshall knew he had to speak to his young constituents about their future.
“I couldn’t say at 17 what I would do with the rest of my life,” Marshall said.
Taking the lead from President Barack Obama, Marshall said he found education was the most important issue Obama discussed in his State of the Union address. He believed, like the president, that students need to stay in school, which is beneficial to both the student and the country.
“You’ve got a lot of decisions to make,” Marshall said, “but it’s a big mistake to drop out. You should see this all the way through. It’s not only a failure to yourself but to your country to drop out.”
Along with obtaining an education, Marshall told the students it is also very important to find a way to serve others, whether it be in the military or other avenues. It was through his own military service that Marshall learned about himself and that there is much more out there than what he wanted for just himself, which he passed on to the students.
“It’s not really a me, me, me world,” Marshall said. “What’s important is how people view you. It starts with not dropping out & embracing the idael of service.
After speaking to the students, the students were given a chance to ask Marshall questions, and he received a wide variety of requests. Several students asked him about his political career, including his salary, and about serving in the military, should they decide to enlist.
One student asked Marshall about his position on Iraq and how he felt about talking to students about joining the military and going to war. He said he went to Vietnam voluntarily because he felt it was what he needed to do, and he feels the same way about his son. He would not want his son, or any young person, to get involved in something if he did not think it was a worthwhile cause, he said.
“If democracy doesn’t have the support of its youth and are willing to serve,” Marshall said, “it won’t last.”
One student asked Marshall about our society becoming socialist because more and more people are supporting that kind of move. Marshall said the U.S. will never became a socialist country because history has shown that type of society and economy does not work.