Watch James Mattis Pay Tribute To John Glenn's Legendary Life Of Public Service

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis speaks with Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., June 20, 2017.
Photo via DoD

If there’s one thing you can always count on, it’s the humility and selflessness of James Mattis.

Accepting a public service award from Ohio State University's John Glenn College of Public Affairs at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. on June 20, the secretary of defense focused his conversation with Dean Trevor Brown not on his own history of public service, but on the school’s namesake.

“We all need role models in the world,” Mattis said of the late Glenn, whose service to the country included legendary stints as a Marine fighter pilot, the first American to orbit the Earth, and a U.S. senator from Ohio.

“We all need them, because they inspire us. They remind us that if we look at someone like this, we can always be better the next day. We all need a code and the role models we choose to remind us of what we can be in this country give us so many beautiful opportunities.”

Of course, not every American rises to the call of public service in the same way Glenn did, whose service to the U.S. spanned nearly 75 years, beginning with his enlistment in the military in 1942. But, Mattis said, the lesson of Glenn’s career isn’t the world-historical scale of your impact, passing groundbreaking legislation or risking your life to push the boundaries of human discovery — all you need to do to change the world is change a single person’s life.

"As we build this country in John Glenn's image, it's good to remember it doesn't matter where you do it, where you contribute,” Mattis said. “Your family, your parish, your school district, your county, your state, your country, the military, civil service, the intelligence agencies, wherever it is — it is a noble mission, and you have to remember that, especially when the going gets rough, and it's gotten a little rough here in our beautiful country."

The military has a particular way of fostering this human level sense of duty and service, according to Mattis: giving junior officers maximum responsibility but limited authority, forcing them to rely on their team and building a sense of service to each other and society, far beyond their number.

“It means putting aside petty grievances,” Mattis said. “It means accepting the humanity of the people standing and working next to you, not characterizing them by a certain political stripe or another, rather by their humanity … by remembering we're more connected than we are separated by those issues that have to do with our vision for this country as we all work together to turn it over in as good a shape or better than we received it. That's our obligation to the next generation."

Speaking to the assembled crowd, Glenn’s daughter Lynn relayed her late father’s affection for Mattis, “not just [because] he's a Marine, but also because he's a tremendous patriot and has been a patriot like Dad for all his life. That's been his commitment."

Hear, hear.

You can watch Mattis’ full remarks below:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Friday that no U.S. troops will take part in enforcing the so-called safe zone in northern Syria and the United States "is continuing our deliberate withdrawal from northeastern Syria."

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan earlier on Friday said Turkey will set up a dozen observation posts across northeast Syria, insisting that a planned "safe zone" will extend much further than U.S. officials said was covered under a fragile ceasefire deal.

Read More Show Less

On Tuesday at the Association of the U.S. Army's annual conference, Army families had the opportunity to tell senior leaders exactly what was going on in their worlds — an opportunity that is, unfortunately, all too rare.

Read More Show Less

The fog of war, just kills, and war crimes are the focus of a new documentary series coming to STARZ. Titled Leavenworth, the five-part series profiles 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, the Army infantry officer who was convicted on murder charges for ordering his soldiers to fire on three unarmed Afghan men on a motorcycle, killing two and wounding the third, while deployed to the Zhari district in Kandahar province, on July 2, 2012.

Read More Show Less

A big stereotype surrounding U.S. service members and veterans is that they are defined only by their military service, from buying "Dysfunctional Veteran" t-shirts to playing hard-boiled, high-octane first-person shooters like Battlefield and Call of Duty (we honestly have no idea where anyone could get that impression).

But the folks at OSD (formerly called Operation Supply Drop), a non-profit veteran service organization that aims to help troops and vets connect with each other through free video games, service programs and other activities, recently found that most of the gamers they've served actually prefer less military-centric fare like sports games and fantasy RPGs.

Read More Show Less

CEYLANPINAR, Turkey (Reuters) - Shelling could be heard at the Syrian-Turkish border on Friday morning despite a five-day ceasefire agreed between Turkey and the United States, and Washington said the deal covered only a small part of the territory Ankara aims to seize.

Reuters journalists at the border heard machine-gun fire and shelling and saw smoke rising from the Syrian border battlefield city of Ras al Ain, although the sounds of fighting had subsided by mid-morning.

The truce, announced on Thursday by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence after talks in Ankara with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, sets out a five-day pause to let the Kurdish-led SDF militia withdraw from an area controlled by Turkish forces.

The SDF said air and artillery attacks continued to target its positions and civilian targets in Ral al Ain.

"Turkey is violating the ceasefire agreement by continuing to attack the town since last night," SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali tweeted.

The Kurdish-led administration in the area said Turkish truce violations in Ras al Ain had caused casualties, without giving details.

Read More Show Less