For almost 75 minutes, nearly 1,600 of us sat spellbound hearing him tell his story. It was like we were frozen in place as he walked us through his journey from his home in Houston, Texas to that fateful day nearly 30 years later in Afghanistan.
The only redeeming feature of this past week was watching how Boston reacted to this senseless tragedy. A torrent of aid workers and others raced to assist and used direct pressure and impromptu tourniquets to keep the injured alive.
As the combat exclusion for women comes to an end and open service for gay, lesbian and bisexual Americans edges closer to truly equal service, it becomes more and more obvious that there is no rational basis on which to bar qualified transgender people from serving in our armed forces.
Seventy years ago the first African-American Marines endured grueling training at Montford Point Camp, breaking ground -- and breaking racial barriers -- to transform the face of the Corps. Because of those brave men, I am able to serve today.
Unlike the military men that were once stationed adjacent to bordellos and trading posts, this 21st century Marine sentry hasn't worn a uniform in quite some time. But that doesn't make him any less duty bound or his imposing stature any less intimidating.
During the last two years, I have had the privilege of making many new military mom friends. I have been so inspired by these incredible women -- their flexibility, their bravery, their loyalty, their commitment and their toughness.