An Unsettling Day

Yesterday’s events in our nation’s capital captivated the country, with images of lawlessness, violence and anger dominating the news cycle. I went to sleep last night feeling deeply unsettled by what I saw, and I imagine many of you share that sentiment. 

When I raised my right hand to support and defend our Constitution as a United States Marine, I never imagined that Constitution- and the physical safety of our elected leaders and their support staff – would be threatened by fellow Americans on the steps of and inside the United States Capitol. I certainly never imagined that so many of them would appropriate the camouflage uniform that I wore with immense pride for 8 years. We awoke to the image of an insurrectionist who was shot and killed in an attempt to breach the Capitol building. That the headlines identified them as an Air Force veteran is a point that causes me particular grief. 

If ever you needed a reason to believe in what we do as an organization, this is your moment. If you, as a veteran, are looking for a place to belong, this is your movement. You are welcome here, irrespective of race, sexual orientation, gender, political affiliation or any other differentiators.  But make no mistake, we reject hatred, racism, and bigotry in all of its forms. We are clearing the path for veterans to lead an inclusive, nationwide movement of service, and we cannot lose sight of that vision. It is the antidote to the hate and division that we saw on January 6th. 

This country has real challenges, and veterans have demonstrated the desire and ability to move towards those challenges, where they are needed most. Veterans with The Mission Continues are working alongside community members every day to improve the conditions of local schools, community centers, public gardens and parks across the country. They are making an indelible impact in these communities, and are experiencing the positive benefits of empowered leadership.

It is not lost on us, in looking at the images from yesterday, that our country has two very different systems of justice…one for the privileged, and one for those that have never enjoyed that privilege. The stark contrast between the way a violent and angry mob was treated at the Capitol, versus the overwhelmingly peaceful protesters in support of Black lives this summer is alarming, and a reminder of how far we still have to go. We take seriously our responsibility to ensure that our work leads us toward a better, more just, and inclusive world, and we remain committed to using our platform to fight for the future that every veteran serving alongside us deserves.

If you want to see what veteran leaders can do in this country when they are part of a movement of service, come join us on MLK Day. Together, we will honor the legacy of leadership and selflessness that our veterans work to build every day.