Being a Warrior is about conquering death. Death is the ultimate mystery. It is intimidating because of its severity and how absolutely personal it is. Death is non-negotiable. Death affects individuals.
Fear is built into this mystery. It is a powerful unknown. Many people seek to ignore it, hide from it, run from it. Some push it from their mind for their entire life and find themselves enslaved by the fear of it, unable to acknowledge its reality and power. Their lives appear to be hindered from a full and true enjoyment of life. Instead their joys are suffocated, and they often dissolve into despair and depression.
As Warriors, the instant we are handed a weapon, we are forced to face death with all of its attached fear. Training to be a Warrior is the most intense of any profession because it accesses the human drive for survival in a raw and real manner, making Warriors aware of very real threats that seek their physical, mental, and spiritual destruction. It encapsulates every aspect ofthe human being and his environment. Character. Mind. Body. Relationships. Nature. Threats. Safety. Training is a strengthening of the hand that holds one's life, so that all encroaching forces may be held at bay, while the tenacious Warrior learns effective survival. Those who are dominated by fear cannot allow themselves to realize the numerous threats tolife which include fear, and resign themselves to a random lottery of occurrences. Fear perverts the person into an inability to take responsibility and creates a pleasureless, complaining victim. A courageous leader named Roosevelt said, "There is nothing to fear but fear itself."
Introspection and observation occurs as the young and very able-bodied Warrior trains and excels. The Warrior realizes that as he faces death, death is returning the stare. Death asks, "What kind of man or woman are you? What kind of life are you living? What kind of life have you lived? What have you done and where does your courage come from? Is it sufficient to face me?" This adversary marvels at the boldness of the Warrior, captivated by him. The mortal Warrior has rejected the option of being enslaved by the fear of death. Instead he acknowledges it and bears it, uses it to his advantage for heightened awareness and humility, allowing him to see his place in the order of things. By knowing himself and his environment, he replaces incapacitation with action, and drives on to accomplish the mission, always the mission first. Failure is not an option. In the true Warrior's heart of hearts, he loves his kinsman in arms, those he has eaten with, slept and sweated beside, laughed with, bled with, suffered with and considers them in an instant. They have made him better than he could ever be on his own. In honor of them, the Warrior intuitively knows that death is a more honorable choice than failure. The reputation and honor of the team is at stake.
A Warrior progresses passed the sentry of fear, ready to overcome its father. The Warrior overcomes death by acknowledging it, showing it a proper respect, similar to how he addressed fear. He trains and sweats. He forges his body and mind in the fire of discipline until it is a sharpened blade. He becomes as technically and tactically proficient as possible. He learns his tasks and drills until they are muscle memory. He maintains his arms. He vows not to leave a fallen comrade. He stays fit. He stays hungry. He stays ready.
The Warrior becomes aware that death has come to respect him. His essence declares to all of history and all of future: I am a Warrior. He need not say it with words. In fact, he is often quiet. A quiet professional lets his actions speak for him. His articulation is in his service. He defends those who are unable to fight. He offers his skills for the defense of the broken and the weak, who hunger for freedom and a chance when all others have written them off. He fights for this kind of civilization over barbarism, wisdom over foolishness, equality over discrimination. He declares to death: "I have faced you, for me, for my family, for my kinsman, and for the weak." He does not claim superiority. He solemnly declares to death: "I have given all so as to receive all."
Death, in respect, offers this Warrior an eternity of glory, in awe of the sacrifice that he has offered for the love of his God, his country, his family, his friends, and often even for his enemies. He is the faceless Warrior we salute during the Pledge of Allegiance, the Star-Spangled Banner, Independence Day, Veteran's Day, and Memorial Day. He is the Warrior we ought to hunger to be, the selfless person who has sacrificed his own comfort that others may sleep peacefully while they pursue liberty and happiness in security. His perseverance is honored in any hallowed space where children grow up without fear, where citizens are free to speak their views and beliefs, in every worship service that is non-regulated by a government, in every citizen able to protect himself by bearing arms, in every political assembly that is based on verbal debate and public will versus power-mongering and violence, in trials where defendants receive a legitimate defense. Here is the glory of the American Soldier, modern Spartan. A million interactions sparking freedom and the ability for citizens to grow, flourish, learn, and build.
Whether society is aware of this reality or ignorant of it, and if you never receive a word of thanks, you carry a fire that warms the earth with your passion, your wisdom, and your sacrifice. You, Warriors, are light to the world. You, Warriors, must lead. To lead, you must serve.