Regardless of the political battles our politicians and the voters are engaged in during this elections season, our men and women in uniform continue to serve us and continue to do what they have been trained to do in near and far-away places, day and night and sometimes under fire.
I found the following images — starting with 24 young Marines taking the oath of enlistment (below) and ending with the dignified transfer ceremony for those killed in Benghazi and the burial at sea of a veteran (final images) — poignant reminders of their aspirations, dedication, courage and sacrifice.
Twenty-four aspiring Marines with Recruiting Station Twin Cities take the oath of enlistment before the Minnesota Vikings battle the Jackson Jaguars at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minn., Sept. 9, 2012.
U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Drew Parks communicates with a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet crew during Operation Spartan Shield in Southwest Asia, Sept. 11, 2012.
U.S. Army Pfc. Michael Weymouth, left, and Sgt. Christopher Ouzts, center, provide dismounted security for U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Michael Myers, right, and his military working dog, Rambo, in front, while clearing a hill of improvised explosive device threats along a route during Operation Southern Strike III in the Takhteh Pol district of Afghanistan’s Kandahar province, Sept. 7, 2012.
An F-15E Strike Eagle receives fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker during an aerial refueling mission over the Atlantic Ocean, Sept. 10, 2012. The Strike Eagle is assigned to the 48th Fighter Wing and the Stratotanker is assigned to the 100th Air Refueling Wing.
U.S. Marines begin a patrol from Forward Operating Base Shamsher in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, Sept. 6, 2012. The Marines, assigned to 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 6, conducted the patrol to disrupt the flow of lethal and illicit aid by the enemy in the area.
Flight deck personnel taxi an AV-8B Harrier jet aircraft assigned to Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 542 across the flight deck during night flight operations aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6). Bonhomme Richard is the lead ship of the only forward-deployed amphibious assault group. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael Russell)
United States Marines salute during the dignified transfer ceremony for the U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service officer Sean Smith, and security officers Tyrone S. Woods and Glen A. Doherty at Joint Base Andrews, Md. Sept. 14, 2012. DoD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo.
Sailors and Marines honor a veteran during a burial at sea ceremony aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5). Peleliu is the flagship for the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group currently underway on a deployment to the western Pacific Ocean. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Derek Stroop
All photos: DOD