“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 point 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…”
- GEN Douglas MacArthur
GEN Douglas MacArthur spoke these words as part of a speech in 1962. When I was transitioning from a NCO (non-commissioned) to a Commissioned Officer at OCS (Officer Candidate School), we had a stack of notecards that we had to memorize called “required knowledge”. At that time the instructors would randomly ask us to quote verbatim one of the required knowledge cards to be able to leave the chow hall or at other times throughout the day. Learning quotes like this not only helped me pass one of the tasks required in OCS, but also reinforced my character and became part of who I was and wanted to be. Words take on life and become meaningful as we face tough challenges. The words and values of Duty, Honor, Country are just as real today as they were in 1962 during that speech. Every one of you that has served our country honorably has lived up to putting Duty, Honor, and Country above your personal needs, wants, and desires. Most Americans will never understand those words and how powerful they are. It's only when you've been through hardship, and warriors have entered the arena, that those words have the kind of meaning that they were intended. This country owes you a great debt that it can never repay!
Today is a day we honor our veterans who made it through conflict. That doesn’t mean that people came back whole or complete. It doesn't mean that there wasn't a price that was paid both psychologically and physically. What it does mean, is that we have the chance to move forward and share our experiences and our love for this country. Recognizing freedom and values above personal satisfaction has been the hallmark of our way of life and we were willing to fight to protect those freedoms.
We commemorate Memorial Day so that this country remembers those that lost their lives protecting the freedoms of this country and providing freedom to others around the world. That is the day we honor our fallen. But on this day we honor those that came back. We must take time to honor each other on this special day and say thank you from the bottom of our hearts. 99% of Americans that haven't served will thank their veterans through different acts of service, discounts at restaurants, or just saying the words thank you. To those of us who have served I say a special thank you because it was an honor and a privilege to serve with you. Many of my colleagues who served before me know I honor their service because they handed off the torch to me to carry on the standards of our military. Many of us have concerns with today’s direction of the military and wonder if we are establishing the same character that was passed down to us. We wonder how lowering standards affects war time missions and if political correctness will degrade the fighting capability and “good order and discipline” of our force. Veteran’s voices must continue to influence the current military force to ensure tradition and excellence are handed down in the decisions current military and political leadership bring to the armed forces.
A Veteran’s service is all about self-sacrifice, discomfort, and the willingness to submit ourselves to a greater authority. We learned that our value is not as an individual but is in our readiness to give of ourselves for our teammates and others. The culture being created today is that of the individual, to question authority, and value self-interest. While in Garrison this seems like it's compatible with military lifestyle but we have to remind everyone that we train for war and that should be our only focus. For all of you that know what it is to truly go to combat you realize that individualism does not breed the culture and character that's needed in war. It is when a leader tells you to take the hill that has a machine gun nest that this matters. We must always be vigilant to maintain a culture that breeds warriors. The dominant warrior culture will continue to refine themselves in three areas; to be intellectually and tactically superior, to be physically dominant, and to build mental resiliency in all areas from faith to morality.
Take this day to be thankful for what we have come through, for our family, for our comradery and most of all for this country that we love and have given much to keep safe. On this Veteran's Day i3solutions thanks all of you for your service regardless of how long you served. It's an honor to say thank you!
VR Tony Thacker
COL (ret) USA