In Afghanistan, I flew reconnaissance missions providing a canopy of freedom for Special Operations Forces. Watching enemy positions and calling in airstrikes, we might be up there for a dozen or more hours with multiple midair refuelings to keep the Taliban at bay long enough for our Special Operations Forces teams to evacuate.
This experience wasn’t unique or extraordinary. In fact, it was quite ordinary.
At home, our lives are hectic: we’ve got work to do, kids to get off to school, and grocery shopping that needs to get done. Throughout the craziness of the day, we don’t often think about these American men and women putting themselves in harm’s way so we don’t need to worry about an attack on our homeland.
This Veteran’s Day, I can’t help but think the situation in Israel is very different. They are acutely aware on a daily basis of the threats posed to them by Hamas terrorists. This was no more clear than on October 7th when Hamas launched an unprecedented and barbaric attack on our ally.
In the immediate wake of the attack, our nation’s leaders – from the White House to the halls of Congress to state capitols around the country – condemned the attacks. I was among those speaking out forcefully, taking action and leading a bipartisan resolution calling for immediate aid to our ally.
But the truth is justice for this atrocity will not come from politicians. Just as an entire generation of military leaders stepped up in our country following the September 11th terror attacks, Israeli soldiers are now prepared to do whatever it takes to defend their families and their homeland.
That’s a distinction worth remembering this Veteran’s Day: veterans were willing to do what politicians often won’t, risking their lives for the causes they believe in and doing it without regard for personal gain.
American veterans stand strongly with these soldiers in Israel now because we share the common values our country and their country were founded on: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. An attack on Israel by radical terrorists is an attack not just on one country but on all the values that Americans have fought to defend since the founding days of our nation. Servicemembers throughout our history – and in Israel today – willingly serve because they know that the world is safest when democracy is strongest.
So, this Veteran’s Day, let us honor the sacrifices of those that have come before us by standing strongly by our ally as she engages in the same fight for freedom. We must ensure not one more dollar can be used by Iran, Hamas, or anybody else to fund terrorism. We must ensure that Israel has the ability to defend herself by sending immediate diplomatic, intelligence, and military support. We must ensure the world knows: an attack on Israel is an attack on American democracy.
At the same time, here at home, let us also honor the men and women who have served in our military to defend these freedoms. Let it be known not just by word but by action that if you are willing to put on the uniform and risk your life for the betterment of others, you will receive the absolute best care that our nation has to offer.
There is no hill too high to climb nor expense too great to ensure the durability of our nation’s protectors because the strength of our nation is derived not from laws, decrees, or fancy buildings in Washington, DC but from those who have fought throughout our nation’s history to ensure that we may live free.