From Ranger Kenneth Pitts, Veteran of 3/75 Ranger and Operation Just Cause

October 18, 2000

General Shinseki,

The Black Beret meant something to me because I had earned it. It came to represent excellence because I had to excel to wear it. Pride has to be earned. Excellence has to be constantly achieved. The distinctions and honors of being among the best can only mean something to those who wear those distinctions if they were made to earn it and if they were a contributor to the achievements.

By giving everyone in the Army a symbol of excellence, without first requiring them to earn it, you have done nothing to improve the achievements of the Army, but you have diminished the pride, honor, and distinction of some of those who have.

The Rangers have very explicit standards. They are there to be achieved by any combat arms soldier who wishes to try. Rather than trying to give distinction to everyone, perhaps in the hope that they will rise to earn it, why not encourage and honor Achievement, after it is accomplished? And if they achieve great things, even while not serving as a Ranger, then there are many other avenues available to you.

The Black Beret sits in a place of honor in my house because it drove me to unique achievements. Will it mean the same to everyone else who dons it after June 14, 2001? The answer is undoubtedly "no," which means that your attempts of fostering pride and excellence in every rank and file in the Army will fail- at the expense of a time-honored and proud Ranger distinction.

Please reconsider your decision, for the sake of those who sweat and bleed for the honor of wearing the Black Beret.

Thank you for you valued time General,

Ranger Kenneth Pitts, Veteran
A/3/75 1989-1993

From:, Ken Pitts
To:, Jay Severin
Date: Thursday, October 26, 2000 12:27 AM
Subject: To: Jay Severin From a Veteran

Mr. Severin,

I am a fan, one of your "best and brightest," and am extremely grateful for your evening delivery of sobriety. Unfortunately, I occasionally miss your talk show on 96.9 FM due to an extended work day, however I do tune in often enough to benefit from your articulate and impassioned battery of logic. I want to thank you for your service to the Constitution, and to this country, and in the same manner of respect that you thank veterans for their service, this veteran thanks you for yours.

I am writing this to inform you of a war that is currently, and swiftly, growing among different sects of the military.

You are probably already aware that General Shinseki, the Chief of Staff of the United States Army (CSA), has declared that the entire Army will begin wearing the Black Beret on June 14, 2001. You may also be aware that the elite Army Rangers now hold that accouterment as one of their own distinctions. What you may not be aware of is the magnitude of the affront to the Ranger community this asinine gesture is.

I am a Libertarian, a capitalist. I believe in natural law: work hard + work smart = earn reward. A very simple and obvious equation.

I am also a combat veteran, a patriot, and a former U.S. Army Ranger. Since military service does not reward success with financial extravagance, they use accoutrements (such as medals and patches) to display achievement or prowess. The respect generated for the high achieving soldier, within the framework of this symbolism, is analogous to the bonuses and BMW's handed out to reward excellence in the civilian sector. The Ranger Black Beret can only be worn by a select few. Those select few must constantly meet standards which are simply not expected of the conventional soldier. Those select few train to "move further, faster, and fight harder than any other soldier" (excerpt from the Ranger Creed.) Those select few work in absolutely miserable conditions, frequently push themselves into the redline, and accept every abuse that comes down the pike. Historically, they are the first to go into harms way. They readily accept the burden of being the long arm of the Unites States of America because there are parts of the world where brutality is a measure of credibility.

They are the best of us.

All they ask from the Army is simple recognition for their tribulations. Up until General Shinseki's declaration, that recognition was the Black Beret.

What the CSA proposes to do with the Ranger distinction is the military equivalent of "To each according to their needs, from each etc. etc..."

It is a sick joke, perpetrated not just by one man, but by a system of thought. That same system of thought which treats achievement, pride, and ability as evil; and treats mediocrity, sloth, and apathy as virtue is the same system of thought that you rally against every time you step up to the microphone. Do not get me wrong, there are many fine soldiers who will never aspire to be Rangers, but there are many ways to recognize them for their successes. They do not need the Ranger's Black Beret to feel pride in what they do, particularly after it goes Army wide and is reduced to a laughable and trivial status.

It would make a fine topic for your forum, and it certainly helps to expose the pervasive nature of this disturbed world-view.

If you decide to apply your generous talent and intellect to this problem, the Ranger community would be extremely grateful.

For more information start here:

From a loyal listener, thank you for your valued time.

Kenneth Pitts
3rd Ranger Battalion