This month is marked with several full circle moments—one of them being the ten year anniversary of my graduation from the United States Naval Academy. (From my personal archives, see a photo of former Vice President Dick Cheney awarding my diploma.)
It also marks eleven years from the infamous terrorists’ attacks on September 11, 2001. The attacks occurred during my senior year of the Naval Academy, which means I graduated in the first class of midshipmen who lead the charge in Iraq and now Afghanistan. I will never forget where I was when those first planes hit the World Trade Center. I was getting help with a paper (go figure) and departing the Writing Center in the English Department of Sampson Hall. The first plane hit; surely that was a horrible accident I thought. Then the second…and rumors of war began. By the time I walked across the yard and into my dorm room, the third hit was confirmed at the Pentagon. All cell phone reception was down, classes were canceled for the rest of the day, and somehow all of us knew our lives had changed forever. Honor, Courage, and Commitment were no longer words we would simply talk about. There are words we would desperately need to live, for our lives and yours depended on it.
I know people have sharp opinions about the nature and relevance of war. Personally, the whole concept of a “war on terror” is too ambiguous. Yet the Bible presents several examples of just wars assumed to protect the innocent and actively preserve peace.
More importantly, the life Jesus lived and the lessons He taught were selflessness and self-sacrificing for the sake of those he loved. He said, “Greater love has no one that this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13 NIV) So for me as a Christian in the military, this was a command with spiritual and physical implications. With my classmates, other alumni, and military service members, I lived the words inscribed on the Naval Academy Chapel’s door, Non sibi sed patriae—“Not for self, but for country.” And it has been an honor for me to serve you and my country in this way.
My classmates are recalling their historical moments with a compilation of personal stories in a new book, In the Shadow of Greatness: Voices of Leadership, Sacrifice, and Service From America’s Longest War. The official book release is September 11, 2012, but something special is happening this upcoming week.
We are giving you the opportunity to turn tragedy into celebration of American’s heroes by purchasing the book during Patriot Week of September 8-15, 2012. The purpose of Patriot Week is to unify like-minded veteran organizations by sharing the message of leadership and service of America. When you purchase the book this upcoming week 100% of author royalties will go to support the following organizations:
IAVA (Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America)
To find out more about In the Shadow of Greatness and veteran support, check out the Official Website: http://shadowofgreatness.com/
Twitter: @ShdwofGreatness #patriotweek
Please continue to pray for our service men and women and their families,
Natasha Sistrunk Robinson @asistasjourney
U.S. Naval Academy, Class of 2002 (’02 Sir!)
U.S. Marine Corps Captain
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Patriot Week 2012 video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbG6R8IJUY4