Since my time in Iraq, I have come to the conclusion that all things being equal, if you have two candidates running for the same office, and one has been in combat, I will choose the one that has literally been battle tested. Add to that category a candidate that served as a field bomb disposal tech who left two legs and an index finger in Afghanistan, and I think you just may have someone who is more than ready to go duke it out in Washington, even if he has no political experience.
Such seems to be the case with Brian Mast, a husband, father, 12-year Army veteran double-amputee, and a Harvard graduate who is openly Christian. He is running for the seat that was vacated when Allen West lost to Democrat Patrick Murphy. By any definition, Brian Mast is a hero, and these days, we could use one.
Brian began to plan his Harvard educational career with the purpose of running for political office even before he was fitted with prosthetics, and he graduated with honors this past spring. He tells of something that to him was unashamedly providential that occurred while he was still bed-ridden, and had not yet seen his family. He had a childhood friend that he had not seen since graduation, and he woke up to see his friend, a member of the hospital staff, leaning over him. Needless to say, the reunion took on far more meaning than, “Hey, we should get together sometime.” His friend became integral in Brian’s recovery, was a link to the family, and had Brian’s wife send him a picture taken while Brian still had two legs. The friend had the photo enlarged, and taped it on the end of Brian’s bed where his legs would have blocked the view if they hadn’t been blown off. The boys had a vision, and they were not about to be deterred.
It was a long hard battle, both the physical therapy as well as attending Harvard, and with the characteristic humility of Special Forces soldiers, Brian says, “I got off easy. All I lost was my legs and my index finger.” He entered Harvard’s Extension program, which also had a residency requirement, and the hills of Boston were tough. He found that all the discipline he learned in the Special Forces, especially in dealing with explosives, helped him get through. His major was economics, something that might have a novel level of usefulness if makes it to the Beltway.
His opponent’s biggest objection is that Brian shows his artificial legs off too much, and has no experience. I’m sorry, but the guy is from Florida, and cargo shorts are simply what you wear, whether your legs are titanium or flesh. As far as the lack of political experience is concerned, can you say, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington?
However, what I find the most interesting is that Brian Mast was essentially portrayed by Harvard as their Golden Boy. Now, Harvard is not exactly well known for being soldier friendly, but they just don’t seem to be able to help themselves when it comes to Brian Mast. Here’s what they have to say:
“Much like a Boy Scout with his Midwest manners, he’ll often volunteer directions and point out sites on campus to visitors. Mitt Romney went to that business school. Henry David Thoreau spent his freshman year in that hall.”
I think what gets me the most about this guy is that he has a strong sense of the need to hand off an honorable legacy for his children. Forget the political career, he wants to be a good husband and dad.
“I’m setting an example for my kids by saying you know what, I finished my degree at Harvard University,” says Brian. “Not only did I finish my degree there, but to some degree I hope that I’m teaching you that it’s never too late to redefine yourself.”
In the most brutally trashy election season ever, this soldier has given me hope, and if you want to help him “go to Washington,” his website is brianmastforcongress.com.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner