Defying odds, defining a nation: Presidents’ Day

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- With the fast-paced lifestyle we in the military are accustomed to, it's sometimes easy to forget about the history of this nation, and the strategic moves of the men who made such a place possible.

On the third Monday in February we celebrate Presidents' Day in honor of the birthday of both George Washington and later on, Abraham Lincoln.

Though we are all familiar with the stories of these two men, what is easy to forget is how gifted each man was when it came to strategy, on and off the battlefield.

Both men led our nation during dark times, rearing us out of infantilism, and molding us into the world power we are today. They have little in common aside from the position in which they served, and the way the odds were stacked against them in their endeavors, both showed that great leaders are often born from the harshest of challenges.

George Washington was the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, and led the charge against the British for our independence. His tactics were not without error during his time in uniform.

This did not deter him however, and he and his troops persevered, crossed the Delaware, and eventually secured victory at Yorktown. His vision for our nation helped shape our Constitution and the freedoms those of us in uniform have sworn to protect.

Abraham Lincoln, our sixteenth president, led our nation through not only the bloodiest conflict in our history, but a time where both our morals and Constitution fell into a crisis of uncertainty.

Though his time in the military came well before the Civil War, his battlefield prowess followed him into office and ultimately influenced his political maneuvering. He rallied members of the Union during the Gettysburg Address to fight on, and later, encouraged members of Congress to pass the Thirteenth Amendment.

Presidents' Day is set aside for us to remember two former leaders whose impact on our nation helped shape our values today. They proved that strategy, resilience and determination can be found in the darkest of places if you maintain the correct mindset.

We who wear the uniform and swear to protect this nation continue to carry the legacy and ideals of those who came before us. Each day that our hearts are full, and our faith unwavering, we channel the spirit and vision of these men, proving America and her military will not be deterred, no matter the challenges that lay before us.