Honoring Our Veterans

On this Veteran’s Day 2009, we honor those who have served and continue to serve in our armed forces.  In my immediate family, that includes my father, a World War II Navy veteran, and my brother Joe, who served in the Navy on a helicopter carrier during the 1980s. I am always proud of their service, but don’t always remember to tell them so except on special days of honor such as this.

Both survived their time of service.  But men and women join the military knowing that they may have to make the ultimate sacrifice.  Most expect that if that happens, it will occur on a foreign battlefield.  None expect it to happen on a United States military installation on U.S. soil.

President Obama’s short but eloquent tribute yesterday to the 13 men and women who died last week at Fort Hood is a reminder of what their sacrifice means.

This is a time of war.  Yet these Americans did not die on a foreign field of battle.  They were killed here, on American soil, in the heart of this great state and the heart of this great American community.  This is the fact that makes the tragedy even more painful, even more incomprehensible.

For those families who have lost a loved one, no words can fill the void that’s been left.  We knew these men and women as soldiers and caregivers.  You knew them as mothers and fathers; sons and daughters; sisters and brothers.

But here is what you must also know:  Your loved ones endure through the life of our nation.  Their memory will be honored in the places they lived and by the people they touched.  Their life’s work is our security, and the freedom that we all too often take for granted.  Every evening that the sun sets on a tranquil town; every dawn that a flag is unfurled; every moment that an American enjoys life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — that is their legacy.

Thank you Daddy. Thank you Joe.  And thanks to all the men and women who have served to protect our freedom.

More to come…


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