The harsh reality and truth of our existence is the same today as it was in George Washington’s time. Freedom is preserved only through the exercise of spiritual strength, the power of will, determination and, if all else fails, force of arms on the field of battle. Before a free nation can flourish, it must first survive.
There are worse deeds than the taking of human life. There are those actions and policies that enslave, destroy, corrupt, demean, or debauch our souls and the lives and souls of others. Yes, we should pray for a time of “no war” on earth, but let us not forget that there will still be times of necessary war.
The fact remains that if I am forced to make the choice between saving the life of a member of the U.S. military and saving the life of an enemy, I place a higher value on the life of the American. When I was leading troops in combat, I believed I owed it to the families of the men and women under my command to, if at all possible, bring their loved ones home alive.
I was often asked how a military man like me could hold the seminary degree of Doctor of Ministry. Then, as now, I see no “conflict of interest.” My faith in God and in this great nation helped me make difficult decisions.
Actually I think the question should be how can a military man not have religious faith? How could a military leader make the multiplicity of daily decisions required in war without belief and faith in God and a greater good? I fear for anyone who directs the lives of others but lacks faith and a sense of eternal responsibility.
In a time of war there will always be those who will refuse to bear arms for their country for whatever reason. These will remain safely at home preaching peace sermons, treating with the enemy, and criticizing political and military decisions and the decision makers.
They will try to spread confusion, fear, doubt and uncertainty throughout the land daily undermining the morale of our brave men and women who face death on the battlefield and in enemy prisons. And they discourage and prey on vulnerable widows and orphans. Fortunately these are in the minority.
Our armed forces exist as an instrument of the people, support and sustain our nation’s foreign policy and as a guarantor of our freedoms. It is the responsibility of every generation to prepare a better world for the generations to follow. There will be a tomorrow and the United States of America will continue to lead the civilized world toward the sunlight of freedom.
“Winning” at home and abroad is part of fighting. To fight not to win is to fight to “no purpose.” The mission of the military is to train, equip and sustain disciplined units that are able to mobilize, deploy, fight and win, to field a fighting force that is both effective and affordable.
At the birth of our nation nearly two hundred and fifty years ago our forefathers fought for liberty and freedom. Since that time we have often had to reaffirm our intention to remain the “land of the free and the home of the brave” on the field of battle. And we still find that the roots of America’s “tree of liberty” are watered by the brave blood of its patriots.
Like our forefathers, let us determine to never fall into the trap pointed out by Edmund Burke, a noted English statesman of the 1700s, “All that is necessary for the forces of evil to win in the world, is for enough good men to do nothing.”
Let us resolve to focus our attention, energy and resources on the threats at hand. The result is that we will not just survive, but will flourish and continue to be the beacon of hope and liberty that is America.