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Sweetie and the Sergeant Major

Have you ever witnessed one of those moments when someone gets pushed a little too far? Or maybe you have experienced that straw-breaking-the-camel’s back scenario yourself. One of those times when it is obvious the ones doing the pushing had just failed to grasp the fact that they didn’t have a measure of forever grace and that there was a limit to the amount of pushing they could get away with. Suddenly, the person getting pushed had just had enough, and they became the worst nightmare of the pushers.


Well, you can just push someone so far before suddenly the pushed becomes the pusher.

Case in point: Anyone who knows my sweet wife will know what an amazingly gentle spirit she has. She has the gifts of mercy and of helping others. She is the one that is often called upon to help other people make things special for parties, events, weddings and the like. But she can also take the most normal of days and make them special. There are always fresh flowers in our house, there are always special things for the kids and grandkids, and there’s a very good reason that her grandparent name is actually “Sweetie.” No kidding, the grandkids call her Sweetie, and it’s a perfect fit.

But oh Lord, does she have notions. The woman sure enough has a mind of her own and a will to get things done. Don’t be fooled by the sweet appearance. If she is pushed too far, especially when it comes to her family, there will likely be grounds for someone to repeat the words of Japanese Admiral Yamamoto, who said in the wake of Pearl Harbor that he feared the attack “may have awakened a sleeping dragon.”

Our family is much like all of yours in that we have favorite inside stories and inside jokes. We love to recount when someone did this or that, or that time when something was said, or how someone looked on that special day. Some of those anecdotes are hilarious. There are plenty of stories about me, or the kids, but one of my favorite stories of all time is one that I will just call “Sweetie and the Sergeant Major.”

Here’s the deal: I left home for Army Ranger School in the winter of 1991, when I was a platoon leader in a Long Range Surveillance Company. I got to Ranger School, and for various reasons, apparently, my orders got out of sync. I was in the Mountain Phase in north Georgia when one of the instructors hollered out, “Ranger Williams! Front and center!”

”Hooah, Sergeant!” I yelled as I ran up and stood at attention.

He said I had an emergency call from home and would be taken in from the field to return the call and then returned to the field immediately unless it involved life or death.

So eventually I got on the phone, worried sick, and Charlene told me that we hadn’t been paid. Well, that’s a big deal. There she was living at home by herself with a 2-year-old and no way to pay the bills. (That was push #1.)

We talked about the pay issue, but the Ranger instructor was breathing down my neck and telling me to hurry it up, so we finished with me telling her who to call at the unit. Apparently, the unit was absolutely no help whatsoever, which is a story in itself. They actually told her to call state headquarters (That was push #2.)

So my sweet wife called state headquarters, and when she did she got Sergeant Major O’Kelly, a man with no fondness for soldiers who go to special schools like Ranger and Airborne. O’Kelly proceeded to tell her he felt no need to address the issue and wondered aloud why I should have been “allowed” to go to such an expensive military school (that was the last push).

Hell hath not the fury of a Sweetie scorned. My sweet demure wife had been pushed one too many times on this one. She literally called right back after Sergeant Major O’Kelly had abruptly ended the call and demanded to talk to his boss, Brigadier General MacLaughlin. The general was an old paratrooper who loved our unit, and he got on the phone with her right away, he listened, and then he said, “Mrs. Williams, we’re going to get this fixed right away. You just sit tight and I will get right on it.” He wished her well and said she should expect a call.

It wasn’t five minutes later that the Sweetie got a call from the sergeant major. Let’s just say his tone had changed like only the butt-chewing of an angry general can bring about.

“Mrs. Williams” he stammered, “I’m sorry about that last call. We’re going to get that pay issue resolved today and make sure it gets to you asap. Again, I’m very sorry.”

I would like to believe that the general was standing over him while he called.

None of us in the family has a better story about squaring someone away than Sweetie does. She had really been pushed just too far, and she came back with a passion and got something done about it.

And therein lies my point: the progressive counter-culture is pushing and pushing and pushing. It’s as if they have no concept of the fact that there is a vast swath of America that has been pushed just about to their limits. It is one thing to be frustrated with foreign policy or aggravated with energy-related decisions that make the price at the pump higher than they should be. When it comes to the economy we can all get tired of paying more for milk and bread and diapers. But oftentimes those high-level issues like international trade, energy policy, interest rates and supply side economics are viewed remotely with the thought that they can be corrected with a change in administration.

But when they come for our children, or when they enact policies that make our homes less safe, or when they destroy livelihoods and ruin lives by pushing and pushing for liberal progressive policies regardless of the human toll, well, then they can easily find themselves on the opposite end when good-natured folks decide they’ve been pushed just too far.

Culture issues are kitchen table issues. When liberals demand that churches shut down in a pandemic but abortion clinics remain open, they are pushing against the right to worship and the priority of life. When liberals yell that anyone who disagrees with Drag Queens dancing provocatively in front of small children is somehow homophobic, they are messing with the values of millions of homes that see it differently. When progressives demand that parents sit down and shut up in school board meetings and ostentatiously opine that parents should not have a say in how their child is educated, they risk awakening a sleeping dragon.

I’m here to say that some folks need to find their pushed-too-far moment and let it be known that they’ve been pushed quite enough. Politics is downstream of culture and that’s another reason why progressives are determined to change culture. Conservatives must recapture the momentum, and the only way to do that is for good, solid, salt of the earth, well-meaning and often unassuming folks to go from being the pushee to the pusher. We’ve got to go full-on Sweetie against the sergeant major mode. That’s what it’s going to take to retake our country.



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