The Presidio, San Francisco. November 11, 2013.
“Duty, Honor, Country: Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying points: to build courage when courage seems to fail; to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith; to create hope when hope becomes forlorn. Unhappily, I possess neither that eloquence of diction, that poetry of imagination, nor that brilliance of metaphor to tell you all that they mean.
The unbelievers will say they are but words, but a slogan, but a flamboyant phrase. Every pedant, every demagogue, every cynic, every hypocrite, every troublemaker, and, I am sorry to say, some others of an entirely different character, will try to downgrade them even to the extent of mockery and ridicule.
But these are some of the things they do. They build your basic character. They mold you for your future roles as the custodians of the nation’s defense. They make you strong enough to know when you are weak, and brave enough to face yourself when you are afraid.
They teach you to be proud and unbending in honest failure, but humble and gentle in success; not to substitute words for action; not to seek the path of comfort, but to face the stress and spur of difficulty and challenge; to learn to stand up in the storm, but to have compassion on those who fall; to master yourself before you seek to master others; to have a heart that is clean, a goal that is high; to learn to laugh, yet never forget how to weep; to reach into the future, yet never neglect the past; to be serious, yet never take yourself too seriously; to be modest so that you will remember the simplicity of true greatness; the open mind of true wisdom, the meekness of true strength.
They give you a temperate will, a quality of imagination, a vigor of the emotions, a freshness of the deep springs of life, a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity, an appetite for adventure over love of ease. They create in your heart the sense of wonder, the unfailing hope of what next, and the joy and inspiration of life. They teach you in this way to be an officer and a gentleman.
And what sort of soldiers are those you are to lead? Are they reliable? Are they brave? Are they capable of victory?
Their story is known to all of you. It is the story of the American man at arms.”
– General Douglas MacArthur’s Farewell Speech
Given to the Corps of Cadets at West Point
May 12, 1962
Today is Veteran’s Day.
It is a time to pause and think about the sacrifices that have been made so that we can be free. It’s a time to honor the soldiers and their families that have been separated by duty and war, sometimes for weeks, months, years and in some cases, life.
Do you ever think about what it would be like to be deployed far away from your home and family, in uncomfortable living situations, and hot temperatures, and away from your comfortable daily routines? Sometimes I try to imagine what that sacrifice feels like. I don’t know if I could do it. I am thankful for those that have chosen and choose to fight for our freedom and to keep us safe. Thank you.
Thank you for your honor and for leading by example and for being role models and pillars of our society. Thank you for making our country safe and protecting the individual liberties that were created by our constitution.
With gratitude, thank you.
Thank you Colonel Algin Hughes, Steve Hughes, Adrian Jansen, Jeff Hartley, Nate Hartley, Steve Maline, Lenny, Joe Garner, Dave Chavez, Mike Bridges, Ben Danner, And all the other service men and women. Thank you.