HONOR

I start this blog post talking about something I know absolutely nothing about.  Yet, it is something I think about on a daily basis - earning honor under fire. 

I think about it everyday because I am surrounded and inspired by the people who do and have earned honor under fire.  I work around and am surrounded by those now living on the civilian side of having earned the honor.  


A few year's ago I was introduced to the "Warrior's Code of Honor" written by Paul R. Allen.  I have routinely read this Code of Honor on a monthly basis simply to remind myself of some key principles and to read the very powerful words. 


"Earning honor under fire changes who you are.The blast furnace of battle burns away impurities encrusting your soul.The white-hot forge of combat hammers you into a hardened, purified warrior willing to die rather than break your word to friends – your honor."

Why do these words resonate so loudly with me?  Maybe because if taken out of context they could be read in a romanticized novel to heighten emotion.  However, these words are written and told by an American hero based on real life experiences and first hand knowledge.  They are written by a man very similar to my friends, brothers and confidants. In fact, his words act as a voice piece of the otherwise unspoken yet excruciatingly loud thoughts of my friends. 

"You did your duty, survived the dance, and returned home. But not all of you came back to the civilian world. Your heart and mind are still in the Warrior’s World, far beyond the Sun.  They will always be in the Warrior’s World. They will never leave, they are buried there. In that hallowed home of honor, life is about keeping your word."

'Keeping your word'.  This small phrase screams at me.  It haunts me day in and day out. Decisions become very simple when they are based on the simple principle of keeping your word. 

Ladies and gentlemen, we live in a world where we are shown everyday that keeping ones word is no longer relevant.  In fact it breaks my heart.  Business is so much more difficult because you can no longer trust the people you pay to fulfill what it is they say they are going to do.  Deadlines don't seem to mean anything anymore.  Promises mean little anymore other than to temporarily win someones trust long enough to get what you need.  Politicians routinely show us you can say something one day and do the complete opposite the next.  There are days that all of this makes me want to go insane. 

"People in the civilian world, however, have no idea that life is about keeping your word. They think life is about ballgames, backyards, barbecues, babies and business.The distance between the two worlds is as far as Mars from Earth.This is why, when you come home, you feel like an outsider, a visitor from another planet.You are."

Maybe this is why I feel more at home on an installation or base than I do walking into a small business on main street America.  Even though I do not necessarily fit in and still am not widely accepted, I still identify more closely with those who have earned honor but are not speaking about it.  I see the honor emulated in their actions toward one another and even if from the outside it is a beautiful thing to witness. I can hear the honor through the silence.  I can hear it in between words.  Mostly, I just feel it permeate the atmosphere.  

The author of the Warrior's Code of Honor goes on to make a note that if a civilian wants to build a rapport with a combat vet then he should demonstrate to him, "out in the open in front of God and everybody that you too have a Code of Honor – that is, you also keep your word – no matter what!".  

This is why I am doggedly determined to do what I say I am going to do. This is why I will change vendors in a heartbeat if they do not fulfill their commitments.  This is why people say I have high expectations. This is why I call bogus on rationalizations and excuses.  This is why I live in a world that wants to annihilate the "to hard to do" box.  People say I am too harsh at times and I sense people are intimidated by my quickness to excuse those who are not living up to 'their part'.  Life is simply too short and this is my only way to garner honor - albeit not under fire. 

The days I am most content are the ones I know I have been accepted by those who have earned their honor because being accepted by them means they know I keep my word.  They know I can be trusted.  They know that I too have a code of honor.