I am an American soldier.

That's the first line of The Soldier's Creed. It's also the second line of the latest letter I received from my son.

Those words are worth more than all the gold in the world to me.

 

U.S. Army YouTube

Throughout basic training, each person is referred to as a trainee or soldier in training (SIT). They are not called soldiers until they complete the 16k ruck march. It's the end of a grueling week of live fire and night infiltration training. Saying they sleep on the ground is generous because they don't get much sleep at all.

 

The preceding weeks of training have led up to this march and them coming over a hill to be greeted by actual soldiers who have passed all the tests and beaten every challenge they have faced.

None of the bars that are set for them is low. No quarter is given. Only the ones determined enough to do so will succeed.

That's what it takes to defend a nation. That's what it takes to assure the other 99% of Americans can live freely. That's what it takes to be an American soldier. That's why the creed is required knowledge for all trainees and the standard by which they live.

 

The Soldier's Creed

I am an American Soldier.

I am a warrior and a member of a team.

I serve the people of the United States, and live the Army Values.

I will always place the mission first.

I will never accept defeat.

I will never quit.

I will never leave a fallen comrade.

I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills.

I always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself.

I am an expert and I am a professional.

I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy, the enemies of the United States of America in close combat.

I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life.

I am an American Soldier.

 

There's strong. And then there's Army Strong. HOOAH!