One of the privileges of growing up with a motivational speaker for a father was exposure to great people in every season of my life. Some were titans of industry, best-selling authors, gifted orators, and others, brilliant creators. But the most extraordinary people I have ever been around are my brothers and sisters in arms. My father always told me that I need to "earn my stripes." He was right, and I did just that and followed orders. Whatever life throws my way, I know I am a hero, and I learned and fought alongside heroes. And whatever freedoms and blessings I have in my world is because of these heroes we call Veterans.
Veterans are heroes who are born from the inside out. We are cut from a different cloth, but there are traits, attitudes, and behaviors that all the greats share, whether civilian or military. The same water that softens a potato boils an egg. Circumstances do not make the hero; they merely reveal what’s inside. A commander isn’t a commander because of the rank; it’s because of what’s inside that uniform. One of the most astounding findings from my doctoral research is that the leader has little to do with who follows and to what degree. That level of commitment is awarded long before the bullets start flying.
So, while every Veteran values hearing those words, "Thank you for your service," what we long to see and hear is, "Thanks to you, I can and will be a hero too.” After all, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and we didn't put our lives on the line to watch our great nation fall into chaos. Unity and respect for our flag and Constitution is the responsibility of all, both in and out of uniform. Here's how you can be a hero too so you can preserve all the life, liberty, and freedoms we have been blessed with:
A hero is a fighter, not a quitter.
A hero is accustomed to hardship.
A hero is well aware of the war raging between good and evil.
A hero keeps praying and believing.
A hero risks their lives for people they don’t know.
A hero follows orders.
A hero respects laws and authority.
A hero acknowledges rank.
A hero goes against the biggest fear of all—death.
A hero stays focused on the task they are given.
A hero understands the nature of conflict.
A hero willingly sacrifices.
A hero deals with separation and loss.
A hero says “yes” to duty and “no” to other things.
A hero doesn’t desert others and never leaves anyone behind.
A hero keeps their focus on the eternal.
The best way you can honor a hero is to be one too. Thank you to all the Veterans out there. May your service and sacrifice model the way for the next generation of heroes!
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