I am an American Soldier.
NOT: I am a heterosexual, white, male Soldier.
I am a Warrior and a member of a team.
NOT: I am a judge of my teammates’ life choices.
I serve the people of the United States, and live the Army Values.
NOT: I choose who I serve and when.
I will always place the mission first.
NOT: I will put my personal feelings ahead of the end goal.
I will never accept defeat.
NOT: I will give up when my comrades are targeted.
I will never quit.
NOT: I will allow discrimination to go unchallenged.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.
NOT: I will choose which comrade to leave and which to protect.
I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills.
NOT: I am careless and unprepared to fight for what is right.
I always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself.
NOT: I put myself above others.
I am an expert and I am a professional.
NOT: I am sloppy and disrespectful.
I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy the enemies of the United States of America, in close combat.
NOT: Only if those enemies come from outside the country.
I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life.
NOT: There is only one American way of life and that’s what I’ll guard.
I am an American Soldier.
NOT more, not less.
Above is the Soldier’s Creed, a mantra that all Soldiers learn in Basic Training and repeat, honor, and respect throughout their time in the Armed Forces. I expanded it with some clarifying phrases that I feel are important to note. In light of the debates about transgender acceptance in the military and sports figures kneeling for the National Anthem (and any number of other debates, I’m sure), I wanted to bring to light one of the most essential tools that is used to train Soldiers.
There is a lot more than just this creed that goes into training a Soldier, but this mantra is one of the most important aspects of the training process. I learned it quickly and I learned it out of necessity, because my training company repeated it numerous times a day in order to anchor it squarely in our minds. However, it’s not drilled into us out of hate and it’s not a brainwashing tool; it is repeated and emphasized so that it becomes second nature. The values in this creed are second nature of a Soldier. Our default should be (and becomes, through repetition of the creed) to protect, defend, and never surrender.
It’s important to keep this in mind, especially as a member of the Armed Services. We tend to have an aggressive approach to solving problems and when encountering people whose preferences differ from those we are used to, and so I am urging everyone, especially those in the Armed Forces who may be struggling with how to react to some of these ongoing debates: remember this creed.
We serve the people of the United States of America. All people.
We are professionals.
We guard the American way of life. Whatever way that particular American citizen chooses to live his or her life, we are here to protect that.
We are American Soldiers.