I used to be the kind of guy who was interested in doing things bigger and better than anyone I came across. This was the way I was in junior high school, high school, and about halfway through college. One of the things about going to a place like The Citadel is it’s humbling. For instance, when we went to play for the Washington Light Infantry, we came face-to-face with Congressional Medal of Honor winners. That’s humbling. They stood out and made you look, and then you saw all the folks wearing Navy Crosses, Silver and Bronze Stars, and Purple Hearts. Those were the times I found myself asking, “What have I done? I’m just some Air Force ROTC cadet. These guys have faced combat and showed great valor in the face of it.”
You don’t do things bigger and better than a Congressional Medal of Honor winner. It’s the highest award we give. The truth of the matter is that the majority of recipients would rather not have had to be in the situation which put them in line for the medal. They’d rather have their comrades back. They’d rather not have the memories. They didn’t earn the award because they were looking for it. Rather, they were just looking to stay alive and keep their fellow brothers and sisters-in-arms alive, too. They weren’t fighting for glory. They were fighting for their fellow airmen, soldiers, sailors, and Marines.
“It matters not what you fight, but what you fight for.” – David Petersen, Mouse Guard
I found this quote from the graphic novel series, Mouse Guard. Life isn’t about trophies and fame and glory and riches. Or at least, it’s not supposed to be. Rather, it’s supposed to be the why and the who. I work hard for my family, not for me. So when I have enough for my family, I go be with my family. I give of my time to help those around me for them, not for me. I write the check to a charity not for a tax break, not to be recognized as some great philanthropist, but simply because I believe in the case of the charity and want to see it succeed. Folks that do it for ulterior motives miss the point, as this graduation speaker pointed out:
Think about what you are fighting for. You’ve got goals and dreams. Do they fit with what you’re fighting for? Or do they sacrifice what you are fighting for? Make sure your goals and dreams, as well as your efforts and work, all of it – align with what you are fighting for. To do otherwise will likely mean you’ll accomplish that which you’ve set out to do, but you’ll look around and see that you’ll have compromised or lost what you were fighting for.