And so the season of the Marine Corps Birthday and Veterans Day gives me pause to contemplate our nation, our legacy, and our future.
We are still the land of the free.
We have an all volunteer force drawn from the home of the brave.
We have fought in every clime and place so we may enjoy peace at home.
We have repelled evil, liberated the oppressed, and sometimes fought just because we were sent.
Our political leadership has sometimes missed the mark.
The young men and women who go in harm’s way hit what they aim at.
While our political masters may sway with public opinion, the Soldier’s course is straight.
The Marine charges ahead without question.
The Airman rigs the laser guided bomb with surety.
The Sailor sets to sea without looking back.
The Coastguardsman will rescue in waters and weather unbounded.
Our fighting men and women remain the best in the world.
No other forces are better trained and equipped.
No other services lead from the front like we do.
No other country teaches their officers to care for their troops as they would their own children.
Our resolve and effectiveness are sound.
Our national leadership remains adrift.
What then can we say of our future?
Do we know who we are as a nation?
Do we know which battles to fight?
Are we so comfortable at home that our nation can be at war and we hardly notice?
Congress has relinquished the power to declare war.
The president acts unilaterally.
The people complain but get on with their lives.
There was a time when the course of this nation in international events was felt by all Americans.
Rationing, converting civilian plants to meet military needs, and even the draft brought our wars into the homes of Americans.
That’s where they belong.
When we go to war, the entire nation must go to war.
It must be a national effort.
Everyone must contribute.
It must be a difficult thing to begin and something that must not be done lightly.
When we go to war we go to win.
The entire nation must pay the price.
There is no safe haven.
There are no unilateral decisions save winning once we have decided to go to war.
It has become too easy to go to war.
It has become too easy to spill the blood of the volunteer.
It has become too easy to just live as if we are not at war.
Our future is darker because we can go to war too easily.
This most fundamental tenant of government has been taken away from the people in the land of government by the people.
Soldier, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines stand ready to fight any enemy at any place at any time.
They go to win.
They will pay the price.
Those who send them have forgotten the price.
The future of this nation lies less in what rights we hold on to and more in what price we are willing to pay for government that wields the most powerful military in the world as an instrument of personal not public will.
We the people should be less concerned about how our leaders impact our jobs and interest rates and more attentive to what they do in our name as they dabble in warfare.
We have the best armed forces in the world.
Honor, courage, commitment are real words with real implications for these men and women.
The valor of these patriots is unquestionable.
The blood spilled to maintain the land of the free and home of the brave is sacrificial.
The legacy of this nation in unmatched in all of history.
We have preserved the union.
We have fought our battles on someone else’s shore.
We have kept our citizens safe.
But in the process, we have buffered them from responsibility.
We have let them complain without action.
We have sent too many men and women to war without the consent of the governed.
That fault lies not with the president who orders the troops.
It lies not with the legislature that only whimpered slightly when it’s powers were usurped.
It lies with each of us who remains comfortable while our servicemen fight and die and hold the line.
We complain of the long lines on Black Friday.
Now is the time to be a citizen of this republic once again.
Now is the time to step out of our comfort zone and become a government of the people again.
Now is the time to send elected officials home who serve only their interests.
Now is the time for men and women of courage to take on the mantle of leadership at all levels.
Now is the time to put God first in our lives.
Now is the time to serve others over ourselves.
Now is the time to have eyes to see not only the liberties that we enjoy but the cost attached to them.
Now is the time to take stock of our lives and our duties and fill the void in the latter.
We have been protected and pampered far too long.
We must keep our nation strong.
But we can no longer afford to pamper ourselves.
We must once again understand words like:
We can look back and be proud of our nation’s legacy.
We must look forward with honor and courage and commitment if our children’s children are to look back with pride also.
It is the season of contemplating our legacy and our future.
I choose honor and courage and commitment and service and sacrifice.
I choose to live as the creature we know as an American.
Will you join me in preserving all that is good about this country as we take on the current century?