Happy Birthday, America!

Today is usually a day for hot dogs, parades and festive celebrations of the birth of this wonderful nation we inhabit.

In that spirit, I’d like to dedicate this holiday to a dear family friend, Cpt. Kevin Mott, an Army Ranger who was badly wounded in Afghanistan this week and is returning to the U.S. for treatment. Our hearts and prayers are with him and his family for a rapid and full recovery.

Another day, we can debate the wisdom of our foreign policy and the wars in which we’re currently engaged … but today, I’d like to pay tribute to Kevin and the men and women with whom he serves. We stand straighter because of their bravery and commitment and shed tears for their innocence and selflessness as they put themselves in harms way for the country to which they give so much and from which they ask so little.

They aren’t encamped on a comfortable bar stool celebrating Independence Day. They’re carrying out their mission in the unforgiving terrain of the Korengal Valley and Kunar Province of Afghanistan, without electricity, plumbing or running water, with questions, maybe, but mostly with an unequivocal commitment to the cause for which they serve. Thank God there are young men and women prepared to serve, to commit rather than hesitate, so that we retain the power to meet the challenges that come our way.

We’re not sure exactly what happened to Kevin in Afghanistan as there have been several accounts of the recent actions there. One story has it that as Kevin fell down a mountainside taking on heavy enemy fire, his men stood in unison, standing tall and shouting to divert the gunfire toward themselves. That kind of bravery and love is both chilling and heart-warming, coming as it does under the most demanding circumstances we can imagine.

Kevin graduated from high school in the same year as my daughter, attended West Point and is dedicated to serving his country in the Special Operations discipline, carrying out the most intense and dangerous missions we can conjure.

He represents the finest spirit of dedication, courage and fortitude, everyday risking his life, and the lives of his men, who in a single unscripted moment, may be chosen to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Kevin is my hero … today and everyday. I honor him with humility, pride … and I’m certain, with the gratitude of all of you. Please take a moment from your celebrations today to pray for the safe return of the men and women in uniform, for the full recovery for those who have been wounded, and for a peaceful and rewarding eternity for those who have given their lives in our service.

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