Memorial Day Speech I Wrote Part I

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Sep 1, 2003
Richmond Texas USA
Hey Guys I wrote this for Son. It was written for Veterans Day but also pertains to Memorial Day. He was asked to be the guest speaker on board the USS Lexington Museum. His was plate was pretty full at the time and asked for my help.
Kind of long but if you are not doing anything give it a read:) THANKS

Good evening ladies and gentlemen…….. and thank you for joining me this evening as we recognize our Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard veterans who have sacrificed, both in war and in peace, to protect America and the American way of life. We are here to honor our brave men and women who have proudly served this great Nation, for they are the fabric from which our flag has been woven.

I'm Trey Hayden a Texan and a Naval Aviator in the US Navy. I'm currently stationed at NAS Corpus Christi. I also fly the T-45 Goshawk while training our future Naval Aviators at NAS Kingsville, and I might add that I'm sure they will be the World's best Aviators. I started my Naval Aviation Career 25 years ago at NAS Corpus and I'm both happy and sad to say that in a few years I will be ending this wonderful career in Naval Aviation at NAS Corpus. OK enough about me, let me say a few words about why we are here. I know what I have to say will not be enough to describe the true meaning of this day. You Great Folks of Corpus and the surrounding area have seen and lived with our current and past service members from NAS Corpus Christi for over 75 years. At the time NAS Corpus and surrounding fields were built, it was the Worlds largest training command.

We gather today to honor the men and women who have worn this nation's uniform. More importantly, we join together to thank them for their service and their devotion to duty.

Thinking of the heroes who join us in this group today and those who are here only in spirit, a person can't help but feel awed by the enormity of what we encounter. We stand in the midst of patriots and the family and friends of those who have nobly served.
I'd like to ask the service members and veterans who are here to stand.

Thank you for answering the call to duty. You have made our armed forces the most respected in the world.

Please be seated.

Now I'd also like to ask the family member of any service member to stand. We know you have lived through difficult times and often taken the heavy load to keep the home fires burning. Thank you for what you've done.

Please be seated.

The service members we honor today came from all walks of life, but they shared several fundamental qualities. They possessed courage, pride, determination, selflessness, dedication to duty and integrity – all the qualities needed to serve a cause larger than one's self.
Many of them didn't ask to leave their homes to fight on distant battlefields. Many didn't even volunteer. They didn't go to war because they loved fighting. They were called to be part of something bigger than themselves. They were ordinary people who responded in extraordinary ways in extreme times. They rose to the nation's call because they wanted to protect a nation which has given them, us, so much.

Since the first shots at Lexington and Concord were fired and our Revolutionary War began, American men and women have been answering the nation's call to duty.
More than 48 million Americans have fought and died on battlefields here and abroad to defend our freedoms and way of life. Sadly, nearly a million have made the ultimate sacrifice in combat or combat-related events. Today our troops continue to make the ultimate sacrifices, and even as we lose troops, more Americans step forward to say, I'm ready to serve. They follow in the footsteps of generations of fine Americans.

Veteran's day, originally called Armistice Day, was originally designated as a day to celebrate the end of World War I. The first World War ended November 11, 1918, at 11:00 a.m., on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month1918, and the legislation that created Veteran's Day was, and I quote, "dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated and known as 'Armistice Day."
As time went on and we engaged in further conflicts during World War II and Korea, veterans' groups lobbied for a change. Rather than honoring the armistice and only those who served in World War I, the holiday would now honor all veterans from every war and conflict the United States had encountered. We've honored our troops and their service and sacrifice ever since.
We have awarded medals to many Soldiers, added their names to monuments and named buildings for them, to honor them for their bravery. But nothing can ever replace the hole left behind by a fallen service member, and no number of medals and ribbons can comfort the ones left behind.

It is easy to recognize our veterans as active-duty servicemembers who are very visible due to our ongoing operations overseas. However, the majority of veterans we honor today no longer actively serve wearing a military uniform. Many have gone on to become our teachers, police officers, firemen and neighbors. Whether they wear the military uniform today, or wore it decades ago, veterans represent an unwavering dedication and exemplify the highest ideals of service to our Nation.

We owe so much to our veterans, and it is a debt we can never truly repay. Their stories are the story of our history, because America rose to greatness on their shoulders. We owe them our very way of life, our freedom to live, work and raise our families as we please. The very least we can do is to honor their sacrifices, and thank them for all they've done for this great country.

Veterans are this nation's unsung heroes. Their families and friends may have been the only ones who knew their names, who knew the sacrifices they made to serve our country. In peacetime, especially, it was easy to forget that these men and women were on duty, in lonely outposts around the world. Our veterans have missed the births of their children, wedding anniversaries and graduations. They have spent holidays in soggy rice paddies in Vietnam, amid the stinging sands of the Iraqi desert, and in the cold and rugged mountains of Eastern Europe.

But fortunately, many more who served are still with us. More than 26 million veterans are alive today. We know them as our fathers and mothers, our uncles, or perhaps our next-door neighbors. They represent the finest men and women America has to offer, and for most, their time in uniform represents a defining moment in their lives. Military service gave these individuals a sense of commitment that lasts a lifetime. Whether they wore the uniform in wartime or peacetime, they felt a new sense of responsibility. They came to understand the price of freedom, because they could put names and faces to it. Freedom was not just an abstract concept; it was the bond of loyalty they forged with their buddies in the ranks.

One of our more colorful veterans was General George Patton, whose birthday, ironically enough, falls on Veterans Day (November 11, 1885). After one spectacular battlefield victory in World War II, Patton said, "Compared to war, all other forms of human endeavor shrink to insignificance."

War presents us with a grim paradox: it brings out both the worst and the best of mankind. Our veterans know only too well the dark side of humanity, whether it be the horrors of Nazi concentration camps that were liberated by Allied troops, or the atrocities inflicted on our soldiers and airmen in the POW camps in Korea and Vietnam. The two world wars brought death on a global scale. World War I left 9 million dead and 21 million wounded. Two decades later, 16.5 million Americans served in World War II, and 407,000 lost their lives.

Flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker said, "Courage is doing what you're afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you're scared."

To some, Korea was "the forgotten war." As we mark over 60 years since the end of formal hostilities, we cannot forget that the Korean peninsula remains a tense and dangerous place today. Nowhere in the world is the contrast between freedom and dictatorship so evident. In South Korea, a vibrant economy is testament to the power of free markets and democracy. But in North Korea, the Communist dictatorship is literally starving its people, while continuing to build up a military force armed with weapons of mass destruction.

Forum is limited to 1000 words See part II