This is one speech you have to hear . . .
Another reason why Vietnam remains in our consciousness is that the experience has made us better. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not arguing for war as a self improvement course. And I realize that war’s trauma has damaged many of our fellow veterans physically, psychologically, and morally. But recent research on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder by behavioral scientists has unearthed a phenomenon familiar to most veterans: that the trauma of war strengthens rather than weakens us (They call it Post Traumatic Growth). We know that a near death experience makes us better leaders by increasing our self reliance, resilience, self image, confidence, and ability to deal with adversity. Combat veterans tend to approach the future wiser, more spiritual and content with an amplified appreciation for life. We know this is true. It’s nice to see that the human scientists now agree.
. . .
Soldiers suffer, fight, and occasionally die for each other. It’s as simple as that. What brought us to fight in the jungle was no different than the motive force that compels young soldiers today to kick open a door in Ramadi with the expectation that what lies on the other side is either an innocent huddling with a child in her arms or a fanatic insurgent yearning to buy his ticket to eternity by killing the infidel. No difference. Patriotism and a paycheck may get a soldier into the military but fear of letting his buddies down gets a soldier to do something that might just as well get him killed.
What makes a person successful in America today is a far cry from what would have made him a success in the minds of those assembled here today. Big bucks gained in law or real estate, or big deals closed on the stock market made some of our countrymen rich. But as they have grown older they now realize that they have no buddies. There is no one who they are willing to die for or who is willing to die for them. William Manchester served as a Marine in the Pacific during World War II and put the sentiment precisely right when he wrote: "Any man in combat who lacks comrades who will die for him, or for whom he is willing to die is not a man at all. He is truly damned."
Wow! The day America stops producing men like Gen. Robert Scales, and the warriors he describes, is the day we cease to be America. Hopefully, General Scales' words will receive wide distribution. Wish I had the video!