Heroism – by Gen. Peter Pace

General Pace official photo

What is a hero?

Who’s your hero?

We often respond to such a question with the name of a talented actor, gifted athlete, generous philanthropist, charismatic leader or perhaps a famous historical figure. Sometimes we use the word “hero” to describe our admiration and appreciation for those who have broken a world record, overcome personal obstacles to accomplish greatness or even enriched our lives with an act of kindness.

Heroism is more than talent, success, generosity, strength or determination. Heroes emerge when courage and selflessness combine, resulting in amazing acts that serve others.

Our nation’s men and women in uniform demonstrate real heroism every day. Quite simply the finest armed forces in the world, these incredible warriors put their lives on the line to defend the freedoms we all hold dear.

With a full understanding of exactly what service to this nation means – often facing repeated deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan – these young men and women raise their right hands and continue to serve with exceptional courage and selflessness. They remain committed to making a difference, choosing to be part of something bigger than self.

This level of dedication cannot be ordered or demanded, it can only be given. Their gift will ensure that our children, and our children’s children, enjoy the same freedoms that Americans have enjoyed since the birth of this nation.

That gift of service simply would not be possible without our military families, who offer quiet strength and untold support. Through long deployments, they sustain morale from afar while maintaining the family foundation at home, despite daily challenges and unspoken worries. Our military families serve this nation as well as anyone who has ever worn a uniform, and for that we are eternally grateful.

True heroes do not consider the title appropriate. They often describe their personal feats as “just doing my job” – a “job” that makes our other hero-worshipping possible.

This series of articles offers a closer view of just a few of these heroes. By highlighting the courageous and selfless actions of our dedicated military personnel, we honor their service and demonstrate our gratitude.

To our heroes in uniform: Thank you. America values your courage, character and sense of duty.

Gen. Peter Pace retired from the United States Marine Corps in 2007 after 40 years of military service. Beginning as a rifle platoon leader in Vietnam, he rose to the most senior position in the United States Armed Forces, the first Marine to serve as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

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