Two and a half years ago, when my wife, Kyla, came to me and said a guy named Mark Greenblatt was trying to contact me about telling my story in a book about military heroes, the answer was easy: No. (Actually, I think it was 'Hell No'). Like so many veterans of wars present and past, I avoid talking about many of my experiences in combat. I've always considered guys who go around bragging about their conquests as a combatant to be suspect--a person who's really seen combat knows its not something you'd want to talk about. I wasn't a hero anyway, so I said he should find someone else.
Anyone who knows my wife, however, knows that "No" is never the end of the conversation with her. She continued to speak with Mark (and talked to people who know Mark, and looked up every legal brief and college term paper he ever wrote, and pretty much anything of public record on the guy), and convinced me that his intentions were pure. Eventually, I agreed to talk to Mark and participate in the book on one condition: that the sole purpose of my chapter would be to enlighten others about what I call Brotherly Love. That what makes ordinary people do what may look like extraordinary things on the battlefield has nothing to do with being an action-hero, tough guy, or Rambo--but everything to do with a bond that exceeds camaraderie to be nothing less than family, nothing less than brotherhood.
I think Mark managed to capture this in mine and the other men's stories in Valor--and for that, I am thankful. In this Forbes interview he emphasizes it as one of several lessons civilians can learn from our returning veterans. He also addresses some of the unfortunate stereotypes that are being attached to the veterans of Iraq & Afghanistan. Definitely worth the read.
For me, Veteran's Day means reflecting on the great men, those who made it back and many who didn't, who I am honored and blessed to call my Brothers. Happy Veterans Day Brother!