One of the things that makes America such an exceptional nation is our commitment to establish legacies, both as a country and within our own families. We believe in previous generations leading by example, laying the foundation for a subsequent generation’s success, or inspiring them to achieve greater feats and accomplishments. I experienced this in my own family when my Dad, a Corporal in the United States Army during World War II, looked into my eyes and said, ‘we want you to be the first officer in the family.’ With his words and actions as a source of inspiration, I became a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army, but our family’s legacy of service wouldn’t stop with me. On June 6, 2002 my nephew, Herman ‘Bernie’ III, an ROTC Cadet at North Georgia College, attended the ceremony at which I took command of an Artillery Battalion in the 4th Infantry Division. Bernie as we call him came up to me afterwards with a brilliant smile and said softly, ‘Uncle, I want to be an Artilleryman.’ This is a day I will never forget.
However, in my life I have been fortunate enough to continue another great man’s legacy, that of Josiah T. Walls, the first black Republican Member of Congress from the State of Florida. While our terms were separated by time, with Congressman Walls having served during the tumultuous years of the Reconstruction Era, I was humbled to carry on his legacy with my election to the House in November 2010. I have since committed myself to ensuring that Walls legacy, and others like it, remain intact by inspiring others and paying it forward.
To that end, we established the Allen West Guardian Fund with the mission of supporting more military and minority conservatives seeking political office. Forty years ago, 70% of Congress had served in uniform, and in the 113th a mere 20% of Congressional Members were veterans. Additionally, there is no reason why it should have taken 133 years for Florida to elect the second black Republican to Congress since Rep. Josiah Walls. These facts and figures are the reason for the mission of the Guardian Fund — creating and restoring a legacy of service and adequate representation in the political arena.
Since its inception in 2012, I am proud to say that the Guardian Fund has achieved immense success in helping new elected officials to office and remaining a strong vehicle for conservative values. However, due to my new position as the CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) I cannot remain as the Fund’s chairman. However, the Guardian Fund’s mission remains steadfast and unwavering and will continue moving forward with new leadership in 2015. In saying farewell, I just want to thank the thousands of you who have loyally supported the Guardian Fund and all of its efforts over the years. Our accomplishments were only possible because of your investment and belief in our mission.
In fact, your efforts made a lasting mark on this country as they enabled the first black female Republican, Mia Love, to be sworn in as a Member of Congress. Let us now endeavor to ensure that Congresswoman Love will not be an exception but inspire and bring forth a new generation of minority conservative women and men to serve. Additionally, you helped to elect a large wave of veterans to office including Congressman Barry Loudermilk from Georgia. I hope that through the Guardian Fund’s efforts we will continue this trend of bringing back greater numbers of veterans to Capitol Hill.
An idea born from generations of family service– a spark — has become a flame. A Guardian, a torch which will light the way for a new generation of Military and Minority conservatives — a new Legacy.
Steadfast and Loyal!
Allen B. West
Lieutenant Colonel (US Army, Ret)
Member of Congress (2011-2013)