It seems most of society’s heroes come from a military background. Unlike most people who flee at the sound of gunfire and explosions, veterans are conditioned to run toward it.

Veterans are trained in tactical survival and emergency medical care. They have endured deprivation and hardship on long deployments. Their military experience has empowered them to suppress the fear and take heroic action.

Veterans also have received instruction on something many civilians haven’t heard of: values training. It was once taught years ago by caring parents and teachers. The military is one of the few institutions in the world where its members are trained in core values like duty, honor, courage, integrity, respect, and selfless service.

Military leadership understands the importance of giving irresponsible young people moral guidance, especially when the highest virtues of today’s culture are political correctness and tolerance. In the Profession of Arms, there is no tolerance for evil. The mandate of our fighting forces is to fight our nation’s wars and win. We don’t win a battle by tolerating the enemy.

Soldiers are trained to respect life, yet the approach is a little different when overseas. Knowing we don’t give begging children chocolate because it might explode their guts or get them beat up by their jealous friends is critical situational awareness. This is the kind of life issues modern day warriors keep in mind while living the daily mantra of “Stay alert, stay alive.”

When I was a kid, my buddies and I would race up and down streets with banana seat, high handlebar bicycles–without helmets. Now, as an adult, I’m supposed to wear a reflective vest and helmet as I pedal along a designated bike path.

When I was in college, universities were institutions where ideas and beliefs were debated and challenged. Today, universities require safe places where students can be free from getting their feelings hurt.

Such precautions may prevent accidents and nervous breakdowns, however, because heroism is born from confronting, rather than avoiding suffering and danger, the mania for safeguards has diminished the notion of taking risks. And we can’t be heroes without taking a risk.

We cannot engage in heroic activity without some social or physical discomfort. But it’s only those courageous souls who risk failure or embarrassment in order to do the right thing, that make a difference. 

Veterans are the ultimate hero brand. 

Consider the recruiting commercials showing Marines climbing over muddy obstacles or Air Force pilots flying at Mach 2 in tight formation or a Coast Guard helicopter crew conducting a daring sea rescue. Most of those scenes don’t resemble most civilians’ days.

Those inspiring commercials are designed to compel young men and women to “answer the call.” I’m grateful for the few who rise to the occasion and join the hero brand.

* Petition:  Father in heaven, bless our veterans and their families on this special day of remembrance.

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