Our nation, along with a small coalition of nations, is at war. It is an ugly war fought against an adversary with little regard chivalry, the Laws of Armed Combat, or the Geneva Conventions. Insurgent forces have cowered behind the white flag of truce and then opened fired on our soldiers when they drew near. Insurgent forces have cowardly donned civilian attire to hide themselves and attack our forces from among the very populace we seek to defend. Insurgents have indiscriminately maimed and killed innocent civilians. At nearly every turn one hears insurgents invoke the name of "God" to sanction and justify their deeds. It is an ugly war.
No doubt you have seen the anti-war protests on television and in the papers. There are those who would call this an unjust war, the wrong war, a mistake.
John Stuart Mill wrote, "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling, which thinks that nothing is worth war, is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."
I do not assuage you to one point of view on this matter or the other. For me the choice is clear. I wear the uniform of the American Armed Forces and I have surrendered a degree of personal choice to the will of my Nation. Some of you will soon be of draft eligible age and may even choose the Armed Forces as a first career or even a way of life. For you too, the choice will be clear. For others, you must decide.
As you travel home this evening ponder the words of John Stuart Mill and ask yourself, "For what values, beliefs, and principles would I be willing fight?"
Good night, gentlemen.