On this day we reflect on those who serve our nation, past and present; both men and women who volunteer to be in harms way. Nearly all of them are young. Sons and daughters with little world experience but with an unyielding desire to push their limitations and test themselves in a way most others wouldn't dream of.
They don't do it for the money. It pays very little. The reasons are as varied as the individuals themselves. For some, its a family tradition spanning decades. For others theres a hole...a void that cries out, waiting to be filled. They want to make a difference. Most couldn't tell you why or even what they believe that difference to be...but they hear the call. More importantly, they act on it.
One percent...that's the amount of our population that serve. The number that runs toward danger instead of away. The few that are willing to sacrifice everything, time with their families and loved ones, even their very lives to complete complex task decided far beyond their ability to influence.
They swear an oath...an allegience to the country and its people and they keep those promises. The sad reality is that those making such decisions rarely expose themselves to such risk. Sadder still, we as a nation have failed to fulfill the promises made to them by our elected leaders and we as a people haven't held those folks accountable.
In each generation there are conflicts, global missions undertaken that inevitably cost lives. The cost of freedom is high...it has always been and shall continue to be paid for with the blood of patriots. Whether they perish in training or on the battlefield is irrelevant. The cost remains the same.
It is difficult to understand such mindsets without having experienced it yourself. Your compatriots are not simply coworkers. They become your brothers, your sisters, your family. Bonds formed under such extremes last a lifetime and for those of us separated by time and distance, the ache never truly leaves.
So I would ask, for my brothers...for my sisters in arms, if you will, do not simply thank them for their service on this single day. I ask that you remain vigilant, that you safeguard those freedoms so painfully earned. Hold our leaders to the same moral and ethical standards that we have sworn to today and long ago.
For the vanguards, those who choose to make a career of sacrifice, duty and honor, I salute and thank you. For all who have and do serve, I am proud to be counted among that one percent.