John Walker Is No Nathan Hale

Nathan Hale made a fateful decision. As a member of the army of General George Washington he responded to the request of the general and volunteered to infiltrate the British lines for recognizance purposes. Upon returning he was captured by the British and ordered to be hanged the next day.

As a youth he was tutored for college by Reverend Joseph Huntington, a student of the classics. In 1769 he entered Yale where he distinguished himself as an athlete and scholar. His executioner, Major Cunningham, denied his request for a Bible and destroyed a letter he wrote. He was allow a last statement. It must have impressed the British for it is emblazoned on the pages of legendary commitment.

Facing the gallows at a place not far from where the World Trade Center recently stood he said, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” Nathan Hale was only 21 years old. Was his a responsible act? He, his family, fellow patriots, his comrades in arms, and history have vindicated his conduct as heroic. No one questions his judgment in enlisting in the colonial army. No one questioned his willful courage in capturing a supply loaded vessel under the guns of the British warships. For his bravery he won a place in the small fighting group known then and now as the Rangers.

This 21 year old acted responsibly and assumed accountability for his actions. Fast forward 225 years and note the conduct of a 20 year old American named John Walker. With pride his mother commented when he willfully left his native America to align himself with an alien ideology that it was “good for a child to find a passion.”

The brand of Islam he chose is even alien to Islam. He knowingly enlisted in Al Qaeda a foreign fighting force. His dad noted he was “proud of John for pursuing an alternative course.” Every course on which they had ever directed him was alternative. Their lifestyle in the 60s was itself alternative. They sent him to the elite alternative Tamiscal High School.

There students determined their own course of study and saw a teacher only once a week. He was considered old enough and his judgment mature enough to make such decisions. When at age 16 he decided to drop out of school they deemed it his choice and endorsed it. His move to a Third Word oligarchy on the other side of the world was financed by his parents who considered him responsible enough to make such a decision.

Only now that he is called upon to give an account for his actions do his parents consider him an unaccountable youth who should not be deemed culpable. Is there a defining line between age 20 and 21 that determines when one is accountable? Is it that we live in a different era and that is the deciding issue?

In our judicial system youth are considered adults at an even younger age. In demanding he be held accountable for his own actions we should weigh the consequences of our actions. Parents should aspire to develop youth with the character of Nathan Hale.