AS NATIONAL Preparedness Month drew to a close, I found myself reflecting on the lessons I learned as a federal coordinating officer at FEMA. Whenever we deployed in the wake of a disaster, our only thought was to work as a team to help others in their time of need.
When families were stranded on roofs with the flood waters rising, we never asked where they came from, their immigration status, or their religious beliefs — we just did what we needed to get the job done. Likewise, the people at FEMA, who represent the wonderful mosaic of our homeland, would all come together around our shared purpose.
That’s the same focus on mission and teamwork I saw every day for 22 years in the Air Force — and what our country desperately needs right now. With so many crises bearing down on us — a looming climate catastrophe, a broken health-care system, and a humanitarian disaster at our border — the only way we can meet these challenges is if we come together.
But for years, politicians in Washington have seemed more interested in fighting with each other than fighting to make our lives better. One leader has stood out to me because he’s pulling us together, not apart — and that’s Pete Buttigieg.
When I see him, I’m reminded that we’re not alone as individuals. We exist as a community and we all have a place here. That’s the America I know, and the America that welcomed me with open arms after my family fled political persecution in Cuba.
And when I hear Pete speak, I’m reminded of the country that gave me so many incredible opportunities to learn and go to college — and the country I swore an oath to defend as a U.S. military officer.
I can’t even begin to describe how I feel when I see what’s happening at our border today. It’s hard to believe the same country that welcomed me, now refuses to abide by the same protocol for people that endured the same trauma. It’s as if an entire political party has embraced heartlessness as a business model. This was the party I once proudly called my own, but can no longer stomach. The Republican Party abandoned me long ago.
And when Pete discusses the need to create a sense of belonging for everyone, I know he means it because, like me, he had to hide his true self for fear that it would jeopardize his career in a military governed by Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
But above all, Pete swore the same oath to defend the Constitution as I did and risked his life to uphold our country’s values. He has proven he has the strength of character and integrity to hold the highest office in the land.
It’s time we restore integrity and ethics to our government because a government without ethics can never truly gain the support of the people — and a government without the support of its people cannot be called a democracy.
We are the country that built the transcontinental railroad, the interstate highway system — and we brought the world together under the aegis of the United Nations and ushered in over seven decades of peace and security.
We did all that — and we can do great things once more — with Pete Buttigieg because he understands the presidency is an office meant to unify the people. No leader — no matter how powerful — can accomplish anything significant without the help of the people.
So I’m ready to join my fellow Americans and be a team again because we need to overcome the massive challenges facing our country before it’s too late. I’m ready to break with the past and summon the courage to once again do big things. I’m ready for Pete Buttigieg to be the next President of the United States.