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Oct 2006 Character Quality -- Loyalty
the following editorial article was written by Gloria Cooper for publication in The Paris News --
An Air Force jet landed at a base in Europe in 1942.  This jet carried a single bomb which, when
ignited, reached temperatures of 2,000 degrees. The pilot landed the aircraft on the strip that the
base surrounded and disembarked. Within minutes, something went terribly wrong.  Someone
inadvertently ejected the bomb and as it rolled across the strip, into the base, it discharged one of
five explosions. Everyone realized that if the bomb discharged all five detonators, the entire camp
would be annihilated.  As everyone scurried for cover, one lieutenant strode towards the
malfunctioning explosive and proceeded to pick it up.  As the lieutenant drew closer, the flames
already exceeded 500 degrees.   Without a second thought, he bent down, took the bomb in his
hands, and carried it to the burned out shell of his plane.  His seconds being precious, he
clutched the bomb to his chest in order to open the door of his plane with what hands he had left
after the burning had done its work. The moment he threw the bomb into the plane, the remaining
four detonators blew the plane to pieces.  Miraculously, no one else was seriously injured, thanks
to the brave lieutenant who sacrificed his hands, arms, and much of his chest for the cause of his
fellow comrades.  For his extraordinary service, his superiors awarded him several coveted
medals including the Congressional Medal of Honor.  

This is loyalty: using difficult times to demonstrate my commitment to those I serve.  We, here in
the safety of America, are not usually called upon to clutch a 2,000-degree piece of burning metal
to ourselves to save our comrades or our families.  However, we can show loyalty at home by
making family the number one priority in decisions or supporting others – whether it is a family
member, a boss, or any other person who is a part of our lives. When we make a commitment to
others that we will be somewhere, fulfill an obligation, or any other promise, we must make certain
that we do just that.  Sometimes we cannot see the need for loyalty in this area, but many things
can and will attempt to get in the way of commitments.  Finally, as well as supporting those we
have relationships with, we need to get and keep connected with them.  Even if the relationship is
strained, keep looking on the bright side of it.  Unbelievably, after awhile, the loyalty you build for
that person will return to you in ways you least expect it.  

Loyalty is essential in all areas of life – particularly in families and businesses.  Loyalty improves
interaction with others.  If everyone stands for a common goal, the loyal one will build off that goal
and help others interact with them.  The man or woman who has a loyal heart will not speak ill of
another, reveal secrets, or spread gossip to others.  They will see a commitment ahead and will
sacrifice all else to fulfill it.  As the loyal and faithful continue to demonstrate this, they will build
trust in the lives of those they meet.  Those who begin to trust them will be able to stop worrying
about being used or betrayed and can start concentrating on what is next for their day.  

The Canadian goose is a stunning example of loyalty; it will give its life for its chicks or its mate.  
First, when they form a bond, it is for life.  Male geese “court” female geese near the start of
winter.  When the female shows acceptance, they remain together until one dies.  Secondly, they
defend others. The first example is the male goose defending his mate against other curious
single males.  The offended male usually will die before he gives up his mate.  The second
example is both parents patrol and defend the nest against intruders until the eggs hatch.  Again,
the geese will give their lives before they allow an intruder to steal an egg.  Thirdly, they focus on
others.  When the goslings hatch and they strike out for the open water, the parents show great
attention to the young.  One parent will lead the goslings, and at the end of the line, the other
parent will bring up the rear, watching carefully for any sign of a mishap.  This protection
continues until the goslings reach a mature age and go out on their own – to begin the cycle all
over again.

As necessary as loyalty is, there are a few things we must be on the lookout for.  The first of which
is justice, which is another word for truth.  If a circumstance has a tinge of untruth in it, it more
than likely is not worthy of our loyalty.  Secondly, we should only be loyal to those people we feel
secure around.  We should not pledge our loyalty, then check to see if we are secure in our
decisions.  We need to ensure that we can trust the person/cause before we pledge our loyalty to
it.  Finally, we must remember that loyalty first belongs to those closest to us – our families.  Any
other loyalty that goes against that life long commitment should be rescinded.  Likewise, we
should break any tie we have with those who do not have the best interest of others at heart.  
There is greater shame in continuing a destructive loyalty than breaking that loyalty for the
ultimate good of others and ourselves.  We need to measure what and who we are being loyal to,
check out all aspects if it, and then stick to it after we are abreast of the commitments.
Portions of this article have been adapted from Character First! material.  For more information about the
Character First! program and resources contact:  Character Training Institute, 520 W. Main Street, Oklahoma
City, OK  73102,  (405) 815-0001. Visit the Character Council of Red River Valley at
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