Lest We Forget…

The following is a Veterans Day speech for 2005, from the American Legion Headquarters, an organization of veterans to which I proudly belong to and stand with.

Corporal Jeffrey Starr was a typical 22 year-old American Marine. He was into high tech, he was computer savvy and he believed in his mission.

Earlier this year, while serving his third tour in Iraq, he wrote a letter to his girlfriend and stored it on his computer.

It was to be opened only in the event of his death.

On May 30th, he was killed by small-arms fire near Ramadi, Iraq.

His girlfriend received the following email: “It may seem confusing why we are here in Iraq, it’s not to me,” he had written. “I’m here helping these people, so that they can live the way we live. Not to have to worry about tyrants or vicious dictators…to do what they want with their lives.”

“To me that is why I died. Others have died for my freedom, now this is my mark.”

Corporal Jeffrey Starr gave his life in pursuit of an ideal in which he believed. He is an American hero, one of many whose mettle has been tested and cured in the crucible of war.

There are, and always have been, many more just like him. Each believes in the mission and those certain enviable character traits, among which are determination, persistence, willingness to sacrifice, possessing an iron will and devotion to duty.

Consider the case of the men at the Battle of the Bulge in WW II. Outnumbered, outgunned, outmaneuvered –bloodied but unbowed – the 101st Airborne Division was determined to hold on to Bastogne (BAS-TONE) and defeat the superior German force.

This city was an important strategic location for the Allies because it could be used as a base to launch a counteroffensive. It was even more important to the Germans because it would mark the Third Reich’s last hope of stopping the Allied march to Berlin.

On December 22, 1944, the German commander of the Panzer Division sent his envoys to the Americans demanding the surrender of Bastogne (BAS-TONE).

After receiving the message, Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe exclaimed, “Nuts” — which became his official reply to the request for surrender.

His reply so offended the German commander that he vowed that all the American soldiers would die. At the same time, it only served to rally the American troops and refueled their determination to defeat an enemy who sought to oppress the entire world.

The 101st held. This enabled the American forces to launch a counteroffensive that soundly defeated the Germans and dashed their hopes for victory in WW II.

America’s history is replete with tales of heroism, sacrifice, and devotion to duty. And most of them involve people who were military men and women.

Today, November 11, Veterans Day, is the time we have set aside to remember and celebrate these great Americans.

Time does not allow us to recount every story from every war, although each should be preserved and handed down to our children and grand children for they are the fabric from which this great tapestry we call “America” has been woven.

Today we can only read a few.

Yet another worth remembering happened just a few months ago.

This past March on the southeastern outskirts of Baghdad, 40 to 50 heavily armed Iraqi insurgents attacked a convoy of 30 civilian tractor-trailer trucks that were moving supplies for the coalition forces.

Three armored Humvees escorted these tractor-trailers. When the insurgents attacked, one of the Hummers was in their kill zone and the three soldiers aboard were immediately wounded.

After three minutes of sustained fire, a squad of the enemy moved toward the disabled and suppressed trucks.

About this time, three more armored Hummers carrying seven MPs from the 617th MP Company of the Kentucky National Guard arrived on scene.

Those seven Americans killed 24-armed enemies, wounded six and captured one unwounded.

This handful of Americans, armed with persistence and superior training, outmanned and outgunned a force six times their size and led the 30 civilian tractor-trailers to safety.

U.S. Senator Jon Kyl once said, “One of the things that makes our military the best in the world is the certain knowledge that each soldier, sailor, airman and Marine know that they can always count on their comrades should they need help – that they will never be abandoned.”

As long as we continue to hold gatherings in America like this one today, I think we can be confident our nation will survive and prosper for many generations to come.

For 87 years, The American Legion has strived to make every day Veterans Day.

Our mission, in part, as stated in the preamble to the American Legion constitution is straightforward: to safeguard and transmit to posterity the principles of justice, freedom and democracy and inculcate a sense of individual obligation to the community, state and nation.

We believe in sanctifying our devotion, not only to our fellow veterans, but also to their sons, daughters, neighbors and to peace loving peoples everywhere.

Today we are at war — and, as in every war, — we are hearing dissenting opinions from those who passionately believe in their cause. Ladies and gentlemen, I am sure they are serious just as I am equally sure they are seriously wrong.

This is not the time to protest what our troops are doing as a liberating army but a time to be united in our support of our troops and their mission. As much as we would like it to be otherwise, we cannot separate the troops from the mission, the war from the warrior.

To support one, we must support both. And when we are victorious there will be plenty of time to quarrel among ourselves on how we can do better.

But today is Veterans Day. We celebrate that which we have in common – the support we have for every soldier, sailor, airman and Marine who is deployed and to provide support to those waiting at home for the call.

President Calvin Coolidge once said, “The nation which forgets its defenders will itself be forgotten.”

We can never forget our defenders. They are the backbone of America.

We thank them.

We praise them.

We celebrate the fact that they willingly sacrifice so much that others may be free.

God bless all of you for being here, and God bless all veterans present for having served. Veteran’s Day – 2005
Corporal Jeffrey Starr was a typical 22 year-old American Marine. He was into high tech, he was computer savvy and he believed in his mission.

Earlier this year, while serving his third tour in Iraq, he wrote a letter to his girlfriend and stored it on his computer.

It was to be opened only in the event of his death.

On May 30th, he was killed by small-arms fire near Ramadi, Iraq.

His girlfriend received the following email: “It may seem confusing why we are here in Iraq, it’s not to me,” he had written. “I’m here helping these people, so that they can live the way we live. Not to have to worry about tyrants or vicious dictators…to do what they want with their lives.”

“To me that is why I died. Others have died for my freedom, now this is my mark.”

Corporal Jeffrey Starr gave his life in pursuit of an ideal in which he believed. He is an American hero, one of many whose mettle has been tested and cured in the crucible of war.

There are, and always have been, many more just like him. Each believes in the mission and those certain enviable character traits, among which are determination, persistence, willingness to sacrifice, possessing an iron will and devotion to duty.

Consider the case of the men at the Battle of the Bulge in WW II. Outnumbered, outgunned, outmaneuvered –bloodied but unbowed – the 101st Airborne Division was determined to hold on to Bastogne (BAS-TONE) and defeat the superior German force.

This city was an important strategic location for the Allies because it could be used as a base to launch a counteroffensive. It was even more important to the Germans because it would mark the Third Reich’s last hope of stopping the Allied march to Berlin.

On December 22, 1944, the German commander of the Panzer Division sent his envoys to the Americans demanding the surrender of Bastogne (BAS-TONE).

After receiving the message, Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe exclaimed, “Nuts” — which became his official reply to the request for surrender.

His reply so offended the German commander that he vowed that all the American soldiers would die. At the same time, it only served to rally the American troops and refueled their determination to defeat an enemy who sought to oppress the entire world.

The 101st held. This enabled the American forces to launch a counteroffensive that soundly defeated the Germans and dashed their hopes for victory in WW II.

America’s history is replete with tales of heroism, sacrifice, and devotion to duty. And most of them involve people who were military men and women.

Today, November 11, Veterans Day, is the time we have set aside to remember and celebrate these great Americans.

Time does not allow us to recount every story from every war, although each should be preserved and handed down to our children and grand children for they are the fabric from which this great tapestry we call “America” has been woven.

Today we can only read a few.

Yet another worth remembering happened just a few months ago.

This past March on the southeastern outskirts of Baghdad, 40 to 50 heavily armed Iraqi insurgents attacked a convoy of 30 civilian tractor-trailer trucks that were moving supplies for the coalition forces.

Three armored Humvees escorted these tractor-trailers. When the insurgents attacked, one of the Hummers was in their kill zone and the three soldiers aboard were immediately wounded.

After three minutes of sustained fire, a squad of the enemy moved toward the disabled and suppressed trucks.

About this time, three more armored Hummers carrying seven MPs from the 617th MP Company of the Kentucky National Guard arrived on scene.

Those seven Americans killed 24-armed enemies, wounded six and captured one unwounded.

This handful of Americans, armed with persistence and superior training, outmanned and outgunned a force six times their size and led the 30 civilian tractor-trailers to safety.

U.S. Senator Jon Kyl once said, “One of the things that makes our military the best in the world is the certain knowledge that each soldier, sailor, airman and Marine know that they can always count on their comrades should they need help – that they will never be abandoned.”

As long as we continue to hold gatherings in America like this one today, I think we can be confident our nation will survive and prosper for many generations to come.

For 87 years, The American Legion has strived to make every day Veterans Day.

Our mission, in part, as stated in the preamble to the American Legion constitution is straightforward: to safeguard and transmit to posterity the principles of justice, freedom and democracy and inculcate a sense of individual obligation to the community, state and nation.

We believe in sanctifying our devotion, not only to our fellow veterans, but also to their sons, daughters, neighbors and to peace loving peoples everywhere.

Today we are at war — and, as in every war, — we are hearing dissenting opinions from those who passionately believe in their cause. Ladies and gentlemen, I am sure they are serious just as I am equally sure they are seriously wrong.

This is not the time to protest what our troops are doing as a liberating army but a time to be united in our support of our troops and their mission. As much as we would like it to be otherwise, we cannot separate the troops from the mission, the war from the warrior.

To support one, we must support both. And when we are victorious there will be plenty of time to quarrel among ourselves on how we can do better.

But today is Veterans Day. We celebrate that which we have in common – the support we have for every soldier, sailor, airman and Marine who is deployed and to provide support to thohttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.italic.gifse waiting at home for the call.

President Calvin Coolidge once said, “The nation which forgets its defenders will itself be forgotten.”

We can never forget our defenders. They are the backbone of America.

We thank them.

We praise them.

We celebrate the fact that they willingly sacrifice so much that others may be free.

God bless all of you for being here, and God bless all veterans present for having served.

Remember to extend your thanks and prayers to all those who have served our country in the Armed Forces. They are a big reason why you enjoy the freedoms that you have.

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