Prince Harry opened up about his decade of military service ― and how it affected his life ― at the 14th annual Stand Up for Heroes event on Wednesday night.
“My experience in the military made me who I am today – and it also connected me with some of the strongest, funniest and most memorable people I’ve ever met,” the Duke of Sussex said in a prerecorded video for his virtual appearance at the New York-based concert and fundraiser.
“I wanted to honor the legacy of these men and women who have given up so much ― from time with family to birthdays missed and even births missed,” he said.
“Some lost their limbs and others lost their lives. It’s for that reason that I created the Invictus Games ― to give injured servicemen and women a platform to excel and reaffirm their values of resilience, of community and strength, which are inherent in each and every one of us.”
The duke added that his time in the military “changed my life forever and for the better.”
“It changed how I viewed sacrifice and service,” he said. “I was born into a life of duty, but it was during my decade in the army that I committed to a life of service.”
The prince served in the British Army for over 10 years, completing two tours in Afghanistan and rising to the rank of major. In 2014, a year before he left the military, Harry launched the Invictus Games, which are a Paralympic-style multi-sport event for wounded service people.
On Wednesday night, the duke also addressed the hardships that people around the globe have faced in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“For the whole world, this year has been and continues to be incredibly hard. But we’ve also seen incredible resilience and purpose,” Harry said. “As far as I see it, service is what happens in the quiet and in the chaos. It’s what happens when people aren’t looking and it’s about how we take care of each other every single day.”
In addition to the duke’s highly anticipated appearance, special guests and performers set to appear at the concert included Tiffany Haddish, Bruce Springsteen, Ronny Chieng, Sheryl Crow, Brad Paisley and host Jon Stewart.
The annual event honors injured veterans and their families and benefits the Bob Woodruff Foundation, which provides support and resources to veterans and their families.
“For the last 14 years, the Stand Up for Heroes event has continued to inspire our nation and serves as a reminder of all of the brave individuals that have defended our country selflessly in our military,” Woodruff, the ABC News journalist who was critically injured covering the Iraq War in 2006, said in a press release last week.
“This year, it is especially important that we unite to show support for their sacrifices as we come together virtually to stand up for our heroes,” Woodruff added.
Prince Harry spent time with fellow veterans and volunteers last week during a private visit with The Mission Continues Los Angeles Service Platoon. He helped hand out meal kits to families.
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Harry also spoke about his time in the army with the Declassified podcast earlier this month in honor of Remembrance Sunday, the U.K. commemoration of those who served in World War I and later conflicts.
“Being able to wear my uniform, being able to stand up in service of one’s country, these are amongst the greatest honors there are in life,” he said. “To me, the uniform is a symbol of something much bigger. It’s symbolic of our commitment to protecting our country, as well as protecting our values.”
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