We can’t all be Washingtons

F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. -- Growing up, I never considered myself a patriot. Patriots were people who I placed on a pedestal so high I would never reach them. When I thought of patriots, the images that came to mind are probably a lot of the same ones you have: our founding fathers, the men and women who fought on the front lines in the great conflicts of their time and who can forget Lieutenant Dan from Forest Gump. To me, patriots were people who knowingly faced death for their country and accepted it.

Though those people are the epitome of patriots, I realized there is more to patriotism than only facing death for the country you love.

Charles F. Browne once said, "We can't all be Washingtons, but we can all be patriots."
Patriotism is standing up for what you believe is right and just in devotion to your country. You may not change the world or be the next George Washington, but the decisions you make each day can make you a patriot.

Our nation was built on the foundation that every individual is entitled to the unalienable rights of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," and our government was created to protect these rights. Do you stand up for the ideals? Do you defend these rights for all others? These may seem like small tokens compared to giving your life to defend your country, but if you don't start small, you may not start at all.

Though defending ideals may seem small, standing up in the face of adversity to right a wrong can be one of the hardest things to do.

As members of the nuclear enterprise, we are faced each day with the challenge to be a patriot or not. Many people don't believe in the methods we employ to defend our country, but our country has placed trust and confidence in us to preserve our defense.

As nuclear defenders of freedom, we do not have the opportunities to deploy to the hot spots of the world, but every day we stand watch over our country and say we will defend it. We will defend our country and our fellow brothers and sisters to preserve our way of life and ensure all mankind is afforded the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

When I look back now at the choices I have made, I realize I am a patriot in the true sense of the word and I am surrounded by patriots every day. Our names may not go down in the history books of being American patriots, but as long as we make the hard decisions to stand for what is right for our country and our brothers and sisters, we will make a difference.

John F. Kennedy said, "Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty."

Within our enterprise I believe these words to still be true today as when they were spoken.