This election year has generated a lot of talk about the role of America’s military in the Middle East. Less frequently does the conversation turn to what’s really at the heart of the matter – whether we, as Americans, are committed to a world blessed with freedom for all humankind.
The microscopic critiquing of what went wrong, what went right, and how well we’re doing is all very important, particularly if we want to continue to conduct a successful military campaign. But often we forget to “zoom out” and take in the larger picture. Two nonprofits, the LOOC (Lives Out of Combat) Foundation and Freedom Is Not Free, have teamed up to remind Americans what this larger picture looks like.
The LOOC Foundation has created a feature-length documentary and a beautiful hardbound portrait book called Warriors …In Their Own Words. As the title indicates, the book and DVD are a compilation of sentiments from men and women in uniform about what their service means to them and what they believe it means to the world. These works contain snapshots of insight from service personnel in every American military branch, and even testimonials from servicemen in the United Kingdom. Many of the men and women interviewed are currently serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, while others recall their service in World War II, Korea or Vietnam.
Watching the documentary evokes a spectrum of emotions, from awe for what these men and women are willing to endure in the name of freedom to humbled thankfulness for their sacrifices. The portrait book drives home the timelessness of our need for warriors by opening with historical figures from the Peloponnesian War (431-422 BC), the Battle of Hastings (1066) and the French and Indian War (1731-1795).
The Warriors project is to show that our men and women in uniform – our warriors – hear a calling. They believe in the validity of their mission, and they know the difference they make in the world is palpable. They have volunteered to serve a higher purpose than themselves. As Colonel James D. McGinley of the Marine Corps states: “Those who have never worn the Cloth of our Nation may call it the military, but those in uniform will always say The Service.”
Our warriors understand that America has a special calling to promote freedom and democracy. In the words of one Marine, “the United States is a beacon of light, whether we want to admit it or not.” America’s strength is further echoed in the confidence with which one soldier speaks of his calling: “There’s no danger abroad that our troops can’t handle.”
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