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Fightin' words

This past week the nation watched in embarrassed fascination as a Chinese spy balloon was allowed to meander its way across the country and hover over sensitive U.S. military facilities for days on end. This provocative act makes it clear that China feels they have license to operate as they see fit. The outcome may yet prove less threatening from a military standpoint, but it is an epic embarrassment on the diplomatic front.

China is asserting itself on the world stage as a near-peer adversary. Have we lost our edge in the eyes of the world? When the Chinese hear our words what exactly do they hear?

Too often current U.S. leadership remains focused on softening our edges and projecting weakness. I submit that we must get back to operating from a position of strength, using speech that inspires.

I don’t believe for a second that we are incapable of fielding warriors on the field of battle. Our U.S. military is still the finest in the world and those who fill its ranks are an all-volunteer force. But as China thumps its chest, we are in the middle of a culture war that is impacting our military through the negative perceptions foisted on it by woke politicians and bleeding-heart, tired, old, flag officers.

If we tell young Americans that we are looking for the best of the best and will train them to fight our nation’s wars, I predict they will beat down the doors of recruiter’s offices.

But if we keep telling them that their requests for religious accommodation on a useless, mandated vaccine are going to be denied, or that they must shower with the opposite sex, or that they are part of a systemically racist organization, or that sensitivity training trumps weapons training, well, good luck getting them to sign on the dotted line.

U.S. leadership has been messaging the U.S. military into a dire position in the last few years, but every so often a speech comes along that is so inspiring, that it transcends time. Words can be powerful and inspire, motivate, and push people to new heights, but when those words are combined with a strong delivery at a key moment in time, the words themselves can take on additional meaning.

There are certain speeches by historic figures that I love. But sometimes there are great orations by those unaccustomed to public speaking, that nonetheless inspire others with needed words at just the right time. A 2019 speech by Army Staff Sgt. (SSG) David Bellavia, given at a Pentagon ceremony just a month after President Trump awarded him the Medal of Honor, is a case in point.

Bellavia’s heroic actions in the Second Battle of Fallujah during the Iraq war earned him the Medal of Honor. His Pentagon speech minced no words. He spoke reverently of the warriors he had served with in Fallujah. Better than any highbrow speech by a skilled orator, Bellavia’s remarks grabbed attention and have since gone viral on social media:

"Iran, Russia, China, North Korea, ISIS, al-Qaida—they may be watching this right now. Our military should not be mistaken for a cable news gabfest show. We don't care what you look like. We don't care who you voted for, who you worship, what you worship, who you love. It doesn't matter if your dad left you millions when he died or if you knew who your father was. We have been honed into a machine of lethal moving parts that you would be wise to avoid if you know what's good for you. We will not be intimidated. We will not back down. We've seen war. We don't want war. But if you want war with the United States of America, there's one thing I can promise you, so help me God: Someone else will raise your sons and daughters."

The U.S. Army has a $600 million advertising budget which has been spent, in part, on ads about Susie having two mommies and finding her calling in the Army. Yet the message in this free video—which has been viewed nearly 8 million times and garnered more than 13,000 comments to date—is what makes people want to join our vaunted U.S. military.

Tell young red-blooded Americans to set aside their personal privilege and patriotism, or that faith matters less than vaccines, or that they will help the military become more inclusive and find their compassionate side, and recruiting will stay at a low ebb.

But tell them that you will make them warriors, in the spirit and vein of those before them who stormed the beaches, and rained from the skies, and defended and protected that which we hold dear, and they will beat a path to the recruiters.

I guarantee China will notice.

Thank you SSG David Bellavia for your words and your service. The warrior ethos is still alive.

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