Introducing Honor

by Honor Fusselman

I was born on Veterans Day.

My parents have told the story that the name Honor seemed only fitting to be given to an infant on that day. My name has become the core of my identity, a challenge I strive to live up to each day. 

I grew up in a pro-military family and community just outside of Fort Worth, Texas. Some kids dream of playing professional sports, or becoming a doctor. I always dreamed of serving in the military. That isn’t to say my path to West Point was foreordained, but it was a goal I had since my early youth.

But since my Plebe Summer, I’ve come to understand this life of service far more deeply than the somewhat naïve and glamourous view I had of the military from a distance. Among the most important things I’ve learned are the values that underpin the Army culture.

I have listened to and watched leaders who embody the qualities of humility, selflessness, and both physical and moral courage. I’ve come to believe that leaders must possess these qualities, and that respect is earned, never given.

During my studies, I was fortunate enough to come across the opportunity to work with Human Rights First and its project, Veterans for American Ideals (VFAI). I knew very little about civil society, or the advocacy world. It’s a world I initially thought might be at odds with the military, but I’ve come to see that we have much in common, especially our commitment to values and standing up for what is right. Moreover, witnessing how the government works, firsthand, has been invaluable – I have walked the halls of Congress, observed think tank panels and Congressional hearings, and have grown my network of young professionals, both inside and outside the military.

I’ve also come to realize that my role as a service member, and someday veteran, means that serving never stops, that active citizenship is the most important way we can contribute to making our country better. And I’ve come to see that veterans can be a unifying voice in our country.

I’ve spent some time reflecting on my own service. Two years ago I took the oath of office, swearing to support and defend the Constitution. That’s not unique to this country, but it’s important. We swear an allegiance not to a king, or a person, but to a document of principles, to ideals.

And those principles enshrined in the Constitution, begin with three words, “We the people.” Who are those people? They are people like me, who have the honor of serving in the military, but as I’ve come to see during my short time in Washington, they are people of all backgrounds, faiths, and ideologies, but who are committed to creating the next lines of the Constitution, forming “a more perfect union.”

In witnessing our country at work, I was drawn back to the words of a graduate of our rival school, Senator John McCain, when he said last autumn at the National Constitution Center: “What a privilege it is to serve this big, boisterous, brawling, intemperate, striving, daring, beautiful, bountiful, brave, magnificent country. With all our flaws, all our mistakes, with all the frailties of human nature as much on display as our virtues, with all the rancor and anger of our politics, we are blessed.”

Yes, we are blessed, but we will always have work to do, because our country will only be what we make it.

Honor Fusselman is a rising junior at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where she studies law and minors in Arabic. Honor is Airborne and Air Assault qualified, and hopes to branch aviation. She is a native of Trophy Club, Texas. As part of her summer training at West Point, she is spending 3 weeks as an intern at Human Rights First.