From Stephen G. (Oil Field Engineer, age 46)

To the Soldier,

I am not a man gifted with great words.  I am an oil field engineer.  In this capacity, I have had the blessing to work with many, many people more talented than I.  I have found success not only through absolute perseverance and work ethic, but also leveraging the knowledge put forth by others.  I soon learned, I do not have to create everything in the world, I simply have to use what is already at hand.

When I found out about this project, I could not help but contribute.  As usual, I played to my strengths and found words from folks more talented than I.

President Reagan once said, “Freedom is one of the deepest and noblest aspirations of the human spirit.”  To me, “noblest aspirations” can also mean “Great”.  “Great” and its cousin “Greatness” do not come from doing the average or expected.  As we tell our kids, good grades, not getting into trouble, doing household chores, is not “great”.  It is nice and wonderful and much better than the alternative, but in and of itself does not define “Greatness”.

What does Greatness mean? How do you define it? To me, to go above and beyond the expected is as simple as it gets.  The Bible has some verses worth remembering: John 15:13: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”  …and Philippians 2:3-4:  “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”  Martin Luther King reminded us that “Not everyone can be famous but everybody can be great because greatness is determined by service.”

Clearly, giving of oneself – VOLUNTEERING for the service of this country which has been the strongest champion of good in the history of mankind, is truly “Greatness” and as such, deserves undying gratitude particularly from those of us who have not volunteered.  Part of my success and happiness is because of you and those who came before you. As you are much more aware than I, that greatness has come at a cost. When I think of how fortunate I am, I can’t help but weigh the gravity of what our warriors risk.

…but there is a horizon.  There is a better tomorrow; both in this world and the next – as a result of your efforts. As the Bible says in the book of Revelation 21:4:  “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Good luck to you all and may God bless you and your families.