Opinion: Honor veterans and keep up the fight for American ideals

Veterans Day to me is personal. For those of us who served, it’s not just a long weekend. It’s a flood of memories and a time to reflect on my deep appreciation for my brothers and sisters in arms who were willing to sacrifice everything to keep our enemies at bay.

I fought alongside some of our nation’s greatest warriors in Iraq and Afghanistan to quelch the terrorist threat to our homeland. Their fight and their sacrifices were rarely headline news, but they weren’t seeking glory. They were answering the call of duty.

The events of this year have caused pain for veterans who left their families behind to fight in foreign lands and all too often saw their comrades die in action. I personally stared down the Taliban. I saw the hate for America. I saw the evil. I and other veterans know what our enemies want to do to us.

The chaotic, poorly planned exit from Afghanistan traumatized many veterans. It made many question the meaning of their sacrifice. American service members who should have one day come home safely and eventually become veterans themselves instead left behind 13 Gold Star families.

And now veterans who fought to preserve our freedoms -- our First Amendment rights particularly -- see their very own Pentagon bow to the woke mob that seeks to silence any views outside of left-wing orthodoxy. For example, the Space Force fired a squadron commander for arguing in his book that “leftist” and “Marxist” ideologies were infiltrating the military and weakening it.

It’s reassuring to see some courageous members of Congress are fighting back.

“The world is a more dangerous place than ever in our lifetime,” 12 Republican senators recently wrote to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “Yet today, efforts to recruit, train, and equip a ready and lethal force often appear to take a back seat to the Department of Defense’s ‘Climate Adaptation Plan,’ ‘Countering Extremism Working Group,’ and discussions of critical race theory.”

In the past, Georgia’s senators would have signed on to a letter like that, but that’s no longer the case. Voters have the chance to change that next year.

In many ways on this Veterans Day, our nation feels like it’s on the wrong track. We’re more focused on our domestic political opponents than we are on our adversaries across the globe who want to see us fail. We are no longer united in believing the simple yet profound truth that America is great because it is good. Teaching our students and military personnel that our country is structurally racist, unfree and unjust creates a generation unwilling to put on a uniform. Previous generations fought and died for the United States because they loved our homeland, our ideals and our liberty. No one fights for a country that they see as no different and no better than any other.

I believe we’re at a crossroads in this country, but I’m unyielding in my faith that America will choose the right path – the path that keeps us strong and united and proud of our heritage. Veterans Day provides a moment of reflection about the services provided by those who wore the uniform, but it’s also a moment to renew our own patriotism and love of country.

We can honor veterans today by backing a strong military that focuses on keeping the peace and neutralizing our enemies, not on indoctrinating left-wing social policy. We can honor them by respecting the Star and Stripes. And we can honor veterans by emulating them and finding a way to serve our communities. No generation is entitled to peace and prosperity; each generation of Americans must earn it.

Veterans did their part for that cause. Now let’s do ours.

Latham Saddler, a former Navy SEAL and former director of intelligence operations in the Trump White House, is a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate.