a transcript of a speech given by Robert Patrick Lewis, Santa Clarita on Veterans Day 2019
Thank you for the introduction and thank you to Suzon from Prayer Angels for the Military and Kyle Lopez from the City of Santa Clarita for inviting me to speak here today.
I typically speak off the cuff when I do public speaking, but today I’ll be reading from a speech that I’ve prepared – both because I’ve been camping all weekend with my kids and I’m pretty tuckered out, and because I feel these points are too important to leave anything out.
Today I want to talk about fighting, or rather, why we as veterans fight, what we as soldiers fought for, and what is worth it, for all of us as Americans, to fight for.
There are people who joined the military for a number of reasons. But many of us who joined, and a very large number of post-9/11 vets, signed up because we believe in something.
Many of us have a list of 3 priorities, and the list order is different for each person. For me, that list order is Family, Country and God.
Some may have an issue with my order, but it’s a very personal list, and given that list determines the internal priorities that many of us are willing to fight and even die for, it is an order that cannot be dictated by someone else.
I have a very particular life path, having been adopted as an infant, losing my mom to cancer as a kid and raised by a long line of patriotic military men which formed my order.
And since God is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent, He knew where the life path He dictated for me would lead.
I fought for the family who raised me when our nation was attacked, wanting to do my part to protect those who raised me with so much love, and to defend the nation which provided us with so much.
I didn’t have children of my own until after I left the military, and it was only then that I learned the absolute truth behind the statement that “you don’t really understand what love is until you have children of your own.” Having them has greatly changed my world view and priorities and am willing to fight to ensure they have the brightest future possible.
I was raised Episcopalian, but converted to Catholicism when I joined the military, feeling that my faith was also under attack and wanting to show a stronger form of reverence to God.
So despite my list order, I would say that all 3 on my list fill a much more significant part of my life than they would for many.
Some would say they fight for a flag, the US flag which flies on the shoulder and in the heart of every American soldier. But if you read and take seriously the military oath of enlistment, none of those 4 things are accurate.
As taken from the oath:
“I, state your name, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same, and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States.
So if many soldiers have a priority list for which they fight, why do we swear allegiance to defend the Constitution, against all enemies, both foreign and domestic?
Because, ladies and gentlemen, we are extremely fortunate to live in a nation, the greatest social, religious, and economic experiment the world has ever known, which represents everything on that list – and much more.
We live in a nation formed from armed rebellion to throw off the chains of a tyrant who didn’t believe we should have individual, God-given rights, that we should be taxed without representation, and that we had no rights to defend ourselves or the freedom to practice the religion of our choosing.
We live in a nation formed under the beliefs of religious liberty, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, the freedom to defend ourselves and our families, and that the government in our Constitutional Republic should be ruled by the people, not unaccountable bureaucrats and tyrants as are seen in most of the world.
And for the first time since the revolution which formed our nation, many of those rights, and our very Constitutional Republic, are under attack from tyrants who don’t believe that any of those rights should be provided to people with a different world view than theirs.
Our freedom of speech is being threatened by groups of fascist, masked children who use violence to silence dissenting voices.
Our freedom to practice religion is being threatened and prevented by people who have no religion, which is the polar opposite of what our forefathers wrote the Constitution and Bill of Rights to protect.
And our freedom to defend ourselves and our families is being threatened by the very types of tyrants that right was granted to defend ourselves against.
Our Constitutional Republic was built to enlist elected officials, many of whom took a similar oath of office as the military, to protect our God given rights listed in the Constitution and Bill of Rights, via a limited government ruled by the will of the people.
Instead, many of those officials have used their office to enrich themselves, their families and friends, and have grown what was meant to be a Constitutional Republic into an administrative, unaccountable and citizenry-last state.
Our nation and the rights of her people are under attack, not by a foreign adversary, but from enemies within who are willing to take away each of the rights which has made the United States of America a beacon of freedom, individualism and innovation to the rest of the world.
They are attempting to dismantle the very documents which have made this nation so great and has led to our astronomical amount of prosperity.
Whether you took the oath of enlistment or not, whether you consider yourself an American patriot or not, or whether you have children of your own or not, it is time for all of us to ask ourselves – are we willing to throw all of this away and upend the greatest social experiment known to man, leaving a nation with fewer freedoms and rights for the next generation to inherit?
If your answer is no, we must each use those powers granted to us by God and as Americans to speak up, to let your voice be heard, your opinions known, and your love for this nation and her people shown.
In closing, I’d like to ask each of you to dig deep and as yourselves: what makes up your list? What are you willing to speak up to protect? What are you willing to fight for?
At this moment, we have a choice:
We can stay silent and watch all of this go away
Or we can stand up, make our voices heard, and Keep America Great!