Last week, Defense Secretary James Mattis delivered remarks to a group of U.S. military members stationed in Jordan during his recent trip to the Middle East. He did not disappoint, as the “Mad Dog” rarely does.
His roughly two-minute speech came in the wake of troubling events happening back home, particularly the Charlottesville protests and the ensuing murder of a young woman, Heather Heyer, by a white nationalist thug. Secretary Mattis clearly hoped to strengthen the resolve of our fine young soldiers, who are not stateside to witness the politically vitriolic and violent events.
He started the speech off by acknowledging how thankful he is for the men and women of the U.S. armed forces. Mattis also unknowingly provided a shoutout to the title of this blog.
“Believe me, I know you’re far from home, every one of you. I know you could all be going to college, you young people, or you could be back on the block. I’m just grateful. The only way this great, big experiment you and I call America is gonna survive is that we got tough hombres like you.”
He’s absolutely right. The only reason we at home are able to continue this beautiful American Experiment is because there have been millions of men and women who answered the call for God and country over the past centuries and still do so today. After his introductory remarks, he paid homage to the fearlessness we Americans maintain thanks to the fighting spirit of our military members.
“You remember—some of you are too young—but on 9/11 we racked up against an enemy that thought, “If you hurt us you could scare us.” But we don’t fricken’ scare, that’s the bottom line. And we’ll go out here, we’ll fight alongside our friends and allies, and we’re gonna keep right on fighting until they’re sick of us and leave us alone.”
This hearkens back to President George W. Bush’s famous and emotional Bullhorn Speech, during which he addressed work crews at Ground Zero with a megaphone. “I hear you,” he said. “I can hear you, the rest of the world hears you, and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!” Despite the horror and unimaginable loss of life on 9/11, the United States did not cower in fear.
Secretary Mattis continued by acknowledging the divisions we face politically at home, but also reaffirmed the well-known norm that social woes which often plague the average citizenry mean nothing in foxholes.
“You’re a great example for our country right now that’s got problems – you know it and I know it – it’s got problems that we don’t have in the military. And you just hold the line my fine young soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines. You just hold the line until our country gets back to understanding and respecting each other and showing it, being friendly to one another, you know, that Americans owe to one another.”
He’s right, despite what some buffoons over at The Huffington Post might believe, the U.S. military today is probably the most colorblind institution in America. It has no place and no time for prejudice due to one’s skin color or ethnicity. It makes young men and women better human beings and better Americans.
The Warrior Monk then offered his hallmark wisdom as to what helps keep America great and make sure Americans remain secure.
“We’re so doggone lucky to be Americans. We’ve got two powers: the power of inspiration – and we’ll get the power of inspiration back – and we’ve got the power of intimidation, and that’s you if someone wants to screw with our families and our country or our allies, ok?”
A friendly reminder why General Mattis was such an outstanding cabinet choice by President Trump. No one wants to mess with him. As he said on CBS’s Face the Nation, “I keep other people awake at night.”
Toward the end of his remarks, he gave another offering of gratitude as well as an explanation for why he came out of retirement to serve as the 26th Secretary of Defense. He also made sure, as any good military leader would, that the men and women stay sharp during their deployments.
“So thanks so much for being out here. You completely took me by surprise, I’m off in la la land [inaudible due to laughter] so that’s good, to keep the old guy like me guessing. The only reason I back off of – I flunked retirement, ok – but the only reason I came back is to serve alongside young people like you who are so selfless and frankly so rambunctious , uh, it’s a pleasure to be around you all. You take care of each other out here, ok? As we call ‘em in the naval fleet, take care of your shipmates out here, ok? Take care of each other. It can get old, it can get hot, you can get sloppy, you can get complacent. Don’t let it happen, ok?”
He closed the speech in typical Marine Corps fashion.
“Thanks to all of you. Listen to your NCOs now.”
For those who don’t know, NCOs are Non-Commissioned Officers, such as Staff Sergeants or Gunnery Sergeants. Though these ranks do not require a college degree or passage through officer candidate school—and they are technically lower in rank than a Second Lieutenant fresh out of one of the service academies—they are universally respected as the most integral leaders in a platoon, particularly in the Marines (Drill Instructors at Marine Corps Recruit Depots are all NCOs).
So there you have it. A simple yet poignant speech delivered by Secretary Mattis and I’m ready to run through a brick wall. Thank God for the United States military.
Watch the video of Secretary Mattis’ full remarks below:
Cover image courtesy of Lance Cpl. Brian L. Lewis, USMC (Source: Epoch Times)