Life of a Warrior

  • Published
  • By Brig Gen Barry R. Cornish, 18th Wing Commander
  • 18th Wing

“I am an American Airman…I am a Warrior”…so begins the Airman’s Creed.  But what does it mean?  The Warrior ethos is a rich amalgam of distinctly human virtues, rooted in nature, and wrought by conflict.  “Warrior” is an identity, as much a part of oneself as any character trait but not easily earned.  The ancient qualities of Warriors have changed little…physical strength, mental toughness, social connection, and spiritual faith…faith in something more ethereal that transcends merely one’s own existence.  To refer to oneself as a Warrior is simple, it’s much harder to live the life…the Life of a Warrior.

A Warrior understands the need for physical strength as more than a means to an end.  The training itself is powerful.  Physical strength and endurance are a wellspring of confidence and self-esteem, the enemies of weakness.  Although human conflict takes many forms, and continues to evolve, those who have assumed away the physical dimension of war in the past have suffered greatly when thrust into it unprepared.  The Warrior understands the possibility of being tested to his physical limits…in the air, on the ground, or upon the water, and his physical strength could mean the difference between life and death, victory and defeat.  A Warrior craves to be stronger.  The weak crave an easier path.

A Warrior is mentally tough.  A Warrior understands that her mind is her greatest weapon.  There are times when a Warrior’s body can feign weakness, but her mind knows better.  A lesser person will be sapped by toil, by idleness, or by wantonness, but a Warrior learns, prepares, commits, resolves, remains focused, calm, and ready…ready.  A Warrior is better than she was yesterday, but not as good as she’ll be tomorrow.  When a Warrior decides on victory, there can be no defeat.

People can often survive alone, independent.  But a Warrior knows true strength is in social connection and interdependence.  The African proverb says, “To go fast, go alone, but to go far, go together”.  Together Warriors are undefeatable.  Warriors trust.  Warriors respect.  Warriors die for each other, and for their beliefs.  The most fundamental nature of the Warrior is his empathy and love for his fellow Warrior.  Warriors live together, and Warriors die together.  That’s the Life of a Warrior.

These are sources of strength for a Warrior.  But even when it may seem that the Warrior’s body will fail her, her mind overwhelmed, seemingly alone and defenseless, there is another source.  A Warrior’s spirit reaches deep beyond the limitations of humanity into her faith.  When the body and mind are worn, the spirit redeems.  The weak draw strength from faith only in times of desperation, the Warrior draws strength from her faith every day.

Physical strength, mental toughness, social connection, and spiritual faith…the Life of a Warrior.  Are you living it?