In The Declaration of Independence, we find these words: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
We Americans are a privileged people. Although we are continuously reminded these days of the proliferation of anti-American sentiment by various people around the world (and even some in this country), we are heirs to a heritage of freedom, hope, and optimism that much of the world can only dream of. With tremendous privilege comes tremendous responsibility. Today we remember and honor those who have borne that responsibility with their lives.
Consequently, we are reminded of the service of every man and woman who takes the oath of military service. In November of 1975, with my heart pounding and goosebumps rushing to cover my body, I raised my right hand and repeated these words as I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps:
I, James Oscar Bohannon, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.
Today I salute all my brothers and sisters in arms who’ve shared that oath (or one very similar) and who bear those arms not for malicious purposes, but who bear them to stand guard over my freedom and yours, and to keep safe the country that, despite its many flaws and shortcomings, stands as the greatest beacon of hope to the world. To those who’ve paid the ultimate price for freedom and honor, and for those who’ve been willing to face the possibility of paying that price, may God bless you always – and, indeed, may God bless America!