I was participating in a Space on X (the site formerly known as Twitter) this week when a gentleman come on stage to talk and ask for prayers. He told a compelling story about how his Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps Instructor, a Lt Colonel, had so impacted his life that he had spent 20 years in the military and his life as a father was so much more positive that he gave this man full credit for his outcomes. The gentleman telling the story is in his 50’s now and was asking for prayers for his mentor that he developed a lifetime loving relationship with and who just went into end-of-life care hospice. I told that story during my own Veterans Day speech at a state veterans nursing home and addressed it to the JROTC Color Guard and their instructors who were there to emphasize the importance of not only what their instructors were teaching them, but the love for each other they were learning would last a lifetime. When I give a Veterans Day speech the theme I always use is true love. To me, true love is the driver behind the actions of we who have worn the nation’s uniforms and fought her wars.

True love reveals itself throughout our country’s history of military action from the American Revolution to the wars of today. We volunteered to serve out of true love for the ideas that our country was founded. It is our true love for each other that drives what we do in peace and war. Out of love for each other, military service members even die for each other in combat because we are trained that the team and its mission come before everything, even before or own lives. When bullets are flying at the infantry or missiles appearing on our airmen’s threat detections systems, we always act for each other. The infantryman dies on behalf of his brother next to him or the wingman for the flight members next to them, when the enemy is upon us. That is what we are thinking about at those moments when death knocks at our door, our love for each other. President Ronald Reagan spoke about this love when he gave his 40th anniversary of D-Day speech in Normandy. He told the story of the Rangers who attacked Pointe du hoc in spite of great odds that they would likely die, but they accomplished the mission any way. He spoke of the great boys and men that achieved ever increasing seemingly impossible missions to win in World War 2 and there backgrounds as farm boys and city boys who loved their country and each other. The graves of those boys who have given the last full measure of devotion for each other dot the landscape of Normandy and across Europe and the Pacific.

We who have served previously have the profound, sincere, hope, and wish that today’s American military members continue to be trained and led with the necessary trait of true love for each other. Without it, success in combat is not possible, risking the belief of our fellow countrymen and our adversaries that the greatest military force in human history can win a war. We hope our wish is granted. God bless you all with love.