Admiral William H McRaven was 37 years a Navy Seal, and finished his active duty career as Commander of all U.S. Special Forces. He is now the Chancellor of the University of Texas System and author of a brand new best-seller Make Your Bed, which is built off his much watched University of Texas Commencement Speech last year. He joined me this morning:
HH: Joined now by Admiral William H. McRaven, U.S. Navy, retired. You probably know him as the man who gave the commencement speech heard round the world. He is the chancellor now of the University of Texas system. But for a long time, he was, of course, in charge of American Special Operations, 37 years as a SEAL. Admiral, welcome, it’s great to have you on the Hugh Hewitt Show.
WM: Thanks, Hugh, great to be here.
HH: Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life and Maybe the World is your brand new book. Are you surprised that a commencement speech became Make Your Bed, which has become a bestseller? Did that just come out of the blue for you?
WM: Well, I am surprised by how much traction it’s got, but I think the appeal, Hugh, is that when you look at the ten lessons, they really apply to everybody. I mean, it doesn’t make a difference whether you spend a day in uniform. It doesn’t make a difference your background, your ethnicity, your gender, your orientation. The fact of the matter is these are lessons that apply universally, and I think that’s why it’s gotten so much interest and so much traction.
HH: I’ve asked so many young people to watch the YouTube video of it. Now, I’m going to have them read Make Your Bed, because it does put in concise, and with great clarity, just the very basics that got you through 37 years of being a SEAL. I can name check a bunch of colleagues that you’ve served with, Admiral, whether it’s Rorke Denver in middle age, or Lou Bremer, or Brian Ferguson, and recently, they’re not active duty SEALs anymore. But I want to ask you first about the conversation I’ve had with them. The silent service, you know, you folks didn’t much use to talk about being a SEAL and what it meant. Now, a lot of people do, and I think it’s for the good. But you know that controversy and that conversation. What do you think about it?
WM: Actually, I think my answer is going to surprise a lot of folks, but I really don’t have a problem with guys writing books or doing the movies as long as those focus on, you know, the great sacrifice, the heroism, the family life and the struggle with the family life. These are important themes that I think the American public need to be aware of. The fact of the matter is, and I’m a little bit of an amateur historian, you know, if you go back to World War II and you look at all the books written after World War II or even during World War II, and then you start to kind of trace that from World War II to the present, I mean, there are books written by every soldier, sailor, airman and Marine, and they are great. They are what really, I think, provides a sense of heroism for the American public when you look at these great stories. The reason I got into the SEAL teams was watching the movie with John Wayne, the Green Beret. And so I don’t really have a problem with the books and the movies, again, as long as 1) they’re not giving away trade secrets, tactics, techniques and procedures, and that they really focus on the things that I think are important in terms of the sacrifice and the bravery of the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines out there.