In the years I served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, I sat with far too many mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of loved ones killed in combat, the best of us, who had made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country. I hoped—hopelessly—that I could somehow ease their unimaginable pain and suffering. The haunting, empty, tragic stares of these grieving families will live with me forever.

After Sandy Hook, I watched in abject disgust while our Congress did nothing, despite the fact that some 90 percent of Americans supported universal background checks. That inaction typified the paralysis and division consistently displayed by elected officials from both parties. Each party could display the same motto: “Party before country.”

Since Sandy Hook, the politics have gotten worse and the weapons have become more deadly. And we are led by an administration without a moral compass, which seeks to divide us and destroy our values: equality, freedom, democracy, human rights, integrity, responsibility, accountability. These attacks threaten the very underpinnings of our civilization.