Joni Ernst: We Just Can’t Enjoy Freedom, We Need To Protect It–Which Is Why I Served In Iraq

Posted: Jul 19, 2016 7:30 AM

CLEVELAND, OHIO- Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst addressed the delegates of the Republican National Convention last night, where she touched upon her small town upbringing, the can do, nothing should stop you attitude that was ingrained from a young age, and the realization that it’s simply not enough to just enjoy the freedoms we have as Americans—we have to protect them and remain vigilant from threats to those liberties whether they’re from aboard or emanate from the Capitol Dome.

Growing up, we didn’t have much, but what we didn’t have in money, my parents, particularly my mom, made up for with tenacity.

She really encouraged us: you’d never hear her say “no you can’t do this.” Instead, if something was challenging, she’d say “Joni, we’ll figure out a way. If this is what you want, let’s make it happen: we’ll figure it out together.”

That’s a trait I carry with me today, and it’s something I teach my own daughter. In our household, and in the homes of many of those in the military, including those up here tonight, giving up, quitting or accepting failure are not options.

That resilience is not unique to our house: that “can do” attitude has served as the foundation of our country for 240 years. It continues tonight here in Ohio, in Iowa, and all around our great nation.

In between my freshman and sophomore years in college, I went on an agricultural exchange to the Soviet Union. At night, the Ukrainians didn’t talk about farming: rather, they wanted to know what it was like to live in a country where they could experience freedom. They wanted to know about our country, a place where anything was possible.

When I came home, I realized it wasn’t enough to simply enjoy freedom and liberty: I had to do my part to protect and preserve it. So I joined the military which as those of us up here with me know is a tremendously important institution that defends the freedoms that we Americans cherish.

I’ve had the great privilege of serving my state and our country while working alongside some of our nation’s finest soldiers. For 14 months I served as a company commander during Operation Iraqi Freedom where my unit was tasked with running convoys through Kuwait and southern Iraq. Last November, after more than 23 years of service, I retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard.