By John O'Leary. This was originally posted on JohnOLearyInspires.com. When John O'Leary was 9 years old, he suffered burns over 100% of his body and was expected to die. He is now an inspirational speaker and bestselling author, teaching more than 50,000 people around the world each year how to live inspired. John's first book, ON FIRE: The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life was published March 15, 2016. John is a contributing writer for Huff Post and Parade.com. John is a proud husband and father of four and resides in St. Louis, MO. Order John’s book today anywhere books are sold.
They don’t get medals, don’t march in parades.
As we commemorate Veterans Day, let’s pause to give thanks to a seldom recognized group who demonstrate true sacrifice, genuine courage and selfless love.
For the United States military, the tip of the spear responsible for the ultimate success and safety of the entire armed forces is the Joint Special Operations Command. The JSOC consists of the most elite Special Forces from every branch of the military. It is charged with carrying out the most dangerous, classified and sensitive missions.
Several years ago – at the JSOC compound – I had the immense honor of speaking to this group and afterwards was fortunate to meet many of these remarkable leaders.
I met with the analysts and contractors, security personnel and cooks, janitors and translators, chaplains and of course, the ‘Operators.’
The ‘Operators’ are the Special Forces team members so often glorified in books and movies. They heroically accept the most dangerous, classified and crucial work.
And yet, the most emotional conversations weren’t the ones with the folks with the highest security clearance or who had participated in the most extraordinary raids.
The sacrifice at home
No. The most emotional conversations were with the spouses of those currently serving.
These are the unnamed and rarely celebrated champions who don’t wear uniforms, don’t get medals and don’t march in parades.
These are the individuals who fall in love, marry their sweethearts, start families, and recognize the reality that they married someone who is frequently gone, always in danger and never able to discuss it.
These are the partners who pick the kids up from school, do the cooking, laundry, shopping, dinner, dishes, homework checks, bedtime routines, assuring little ones that mom or dad will return home soon… and then go to sleep by themselves questioning the assurance they just provided.
English writer and poet, G.K. Chesterton, wrote it best when he said, “Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die.”
A strong desire to live.
Taking the form of a readiness to die.
That’s powerful. That’s love in action.
And that sums up the truth lived out by the JSOC. Perhaps no group embodies it more perfectly, though, than the remarkable spouses.
On this Veterans Day
My friends, as you step into your week, let’s pause and remember why we celebrate Veterans Day. Let’s give thanks for all the veterans who have served and actively serve our country.
And let’s be mindful of the sacrifices being made, not just by our armed forces, but also by the unnamed army of spouses racing after children and leading households for months at a time while their partners serve our country.
This is your day. Live Inspired.
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