Retired General John Kelly put his life on the line for the American people for nearly four decades in the U.S. Marine Corps.
But Kelly, now serving in the Trump administration as Homeland Security Secretary, doesn't just know service — he also knows sacrifice of the greatest measure: in 2010, 1st Lieutenant Robert Michael Kelly, his 29-year-old son, was killed in Sangin, Afghanistan on a patrol.
Just four days later, Kelly gave a eulogy for two other Marines who were killed as they attempted to stop a suicide bomber from driving a truck into their compound. That eulogy, in part, read:
The two Marines had about five seconds left to live. It took maybe another two seconds for them to present their weapons, take aim, and open up. By this time the truck was half-way through the barriers and gaining speed the whole time. Here, the recording shows a number of Iraqi police, some of whom had fired their AKs, now scattering like the normal and rational men they were- some running right past the Marines. They had three seconds left to live.
For about two seconds more, the recording shows the Marines’ weapons firing non-stop…the truck’s windshield exploding into shards of glass as their rounds take it apart and tore in to the body of the son-of-a-bitch who is trying to get past them to kill their brothers—American and Iraqi—bedded down in the barracks totally unaware of the fact that their lives at that moment depended entirely on two Marines standing their ground. If they had been aware, they would have known they were safe … because two Marines stood between them and a crazed suicide bomber ...
The truck explodes. The camera goes blank. Two young men go to their God.
Not enough time to think about their families, their country, their flag, or about their lives or their deaths, but more than enough time for two very brave young men to do their duty… into eternity. That is the kind of people who are on watch all over the world tonight– for you.”
But in spite of his powerful words, Kelly, who had long offered his own life as a possible sacrifice for his country, said a few years later that losing his son made him briefly question the cause.
Kelly said he struggled with the question of whether any cause was noble enough to justify losing a son.
“I realized the question was not mine to ask or to answer,” he said. “It didn't matter what I thought. Only what he thought. The answer was his to give. He gave it by his actions that day, by the entire life that brought him to the instant he was lost.”
“That is the answer to all of my questions,” Kelly said. “I need nothing else.”
Seven years have now passed since his son made that sacrifice and Secretary Kelly noted during an appearance on “Fox and Friends” that, for him, every day is Memorial Day:
"We don't need Memorial Day. If you're a Gold Star family, you think about him or her every single day, hundreds of times a day. But what Memorial Day, in my mind, is good for, is for America to remember the million men and women over our history who have given their lives for this country in combat.
So even if you're at the beach or at a mattress sale somewhere, think about that."
The tough-as-nails retired USMC General choked up a bit as he remembered “the finest guy I ever knew.”