The following is an Opinion piece submitted to The Arizona Republic by Brophy alumnus Travis Bode ’98.
In 1998, Tom Brokaw honored our grandparents who defended American interests in the deep snow of Europe and turbulent waters of the Pacific. He called them the “Greatest Generation.”
I am devoted to the same principles as the greatest generation. After graduating from Brophy College Preparatory in 1998, I went to the Naval Academy, inspired in part by U.S. Sen. John McCain (Naval Academy Class of 1958), who I had the good fortune of meeting several times.
I knew I might be called to duty, but such a reality was abstract at age 18. But on a September morning 11 years ago, while we walked to class as seniors, our homeland was attacked and it was our time to serve. Just like our grandparents, I had no idea where or for how long.
In a September 2011 interview with Stephen Colbert, Brokaw recounted a comment made to Gen. David Petraeus: “This could be the ‘next greatest generation.’ … I think the people who have been serving in military uniform, who volunteered, raised their hands … have that potential for greatness. They have come back (from war), gone to school, are in jobs, running for state legislature, Congress and the Senate.”
I am a member of a class of 965 people — out of more than 1 million overall — who voluntarily served after 9/11. This generation of Americans responded to a changed world order and were the patriots of our nation’s longest war.
Convinced of the importance of the 9/11 generation’s role, my Naval Academy Class of 2002 wrote a book. Former presidential adviser David Gergen said the book “is written for citizens and others of all stripes. These accounts … fill you with hope that this rising generation, forged in tragedy and war … will help all Americans, both in and out of uniform, unite to rise to the occasion once more.”
“In the Shadow of Greatness” is a collection of vignettes providing tales of leadership and courage from Baghdad; Kandahar, Afghanistan; and beyond. Through the eyes of Navy and Marine junior officers, the reader is placed on the front lines — conducting counterinsurgency, blasting off aircraft carriers, attending Afghan council meetings and providing humanitarian support around the world.
Policy debates on the fruits and accomplishments of war and the losses and setbacks are well above my pay grade. Likewise, the future military deployments and commitments are unclear as the election nears, but to my classmates, that is less important. We will answer the call of service no matter the political party or policies of our president.
This book honors those who served in uniform after 9/11 and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. All proceeds from book sales through Sept. 15 benefit several veterans groups.
Lt. Commander Travis Bode is a naval intelligence officer and contributor to the book, “In the Shadow of Greatness.”
Courtesy of AZCentral.com