Hands-down, Admiral Grace Hopper is one of the greatest veterans in American military history.
Born in 1906, she was too young to volunteer for World War One, and tried to enlist in the Navy during the World War Two but told she was too old. She was a math professor with a strong will, and wouldn't take no for an answer. She finally found a way into the Navy Reserves, and rose to become an Admiral. Admiral Hooper was an early pioneer of modern-day computing and best known for her trailblazing contributions to computer programming, software development, and the design and implementation of programming languages.
Last month, I had the distinct honor to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the dedication of the new Admiral Grace Hopper building, Hopper Hall, at the United States Naval Academy. Chills ran down my spine and I found myself a little misty-eyed at times as the grateful civilian and military communities joined together to celebrate Admiral Hopper’s world-changing contributions, earning her the National Medal of Technology and Presidential Medal of Freedom amongst many other accolades and awards. Hopper Hall is the first academic building at a United States Armed Forces academy to be named after a woman and dedicated to the study of cyber security.
Today, Americans across the country will celebrate Veterans Day, a special day to salute the men and women who have bravely served our country in the military as we extend our gratitude for their service. To me, Veteran’s Day is an important day for several reasons. First, I believe in the power of gratitude. Human behavior psychologists all agree that the virtue of gratitude is strongly correlated with greater personal happiness. Imagine its power when an entire nation humbly unites in gratitude on Veteran’s Day for those amongst us who have served our nation.
The second reason of importance is I also believe in the power of service – service to others above self – and a calling to be part of something bigger than ourselves. For a veteran, this calling manifests itself in the form of military service and a willingness to pay the ultimate personal sacrifice to protect our collective values and freedoms. As a veteran, I am equally humbled and proud to have served with some of the finest men and women who have embodied these principles. It was truly a privilege to serve my fellow Americans.
My humble request of each of you today is to take a couple minutes to reflect on the power of gratitude and the power of service. While today may be about our veterans, these superpowers reside in each and every one of us. Use them in the pursuit of good over evil.
Fair winds and following seas!