Veterans Day

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Sep 1, 2003
Richmond Texas USA
Hey Guys,
Son was asked to represent the Navy on board the USS Lexington/Museum. This was a request made by The Rotary Club of Corpus Christi Texas and will take place this Veterans Day.
I know it might be a little early for this. Well maybe not just 11 days away.
Anyway the story goes. Gee Dad I have to give some kind of a speech and I'm really busy Flying students and doing all that Captain stuff. Could you help me out on this?
Well this is what I put together for him and thought I would share it with you'll. Comments are welcome I can still make changes.

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 Worlds' 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.

Not every veteran has seen combat, of course. But even in peacetime, they face dangers that most other Americans never know. Hazardous night-time training missions in high-speed aircraft, rescuing crewmembers from downed aircraft, or providing relief supplies after a natural disaster all come with elements of risk. But they have important jobs to do, and thank goodness we have always had young men and women ready to do them.

Our veterans are living examples of what it means to be good citizens. They have given us a lifetime of service, and the country has been enriched by their contributions, both in and out of uniform. And speaking of "citizen-soldiers," we are increasingly calling on the members of our Guard and Reserve to serve on the front lines of the War on Terrorism. We simply could not accomplish our mission without the help of the Reserve Component.

General Omar Bradley said, "In war, there is no prize for the runner-up." Never was that more true than in the War on Terrorism. The possibility that terrorists may possess deadly chemical, biological or even nuclear weapons is truly a horrific thought. We must confront shadowy terrorist networks in more than 60 countries around the world, before they confront us here on Main Street. The stakes are unimaginably high, as we learned 14 years ago, when hijackers turned our own commercial airliners into weapons of mass destruction, killing 3,000 innocent civilians.

Today, people throughout the country will gather together to remember, to honor, and to pay gratitude to those who have served our country. Our gathering is just one small spark in the flame of pride that burns across the nation today and every day. It’s not a lot, but its one small way we can honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice so that we can live in freedom.

Your presence here today and that of the people gathering all across America is a tribute to those lost troops, everyone who has served and to their Families. It is a way to say we remember. From the Soldiers who shivered and starved through the winter at Valley Forge to the doughboys crouched in the muddy trenches of France to the platoon who patrolled the hazy jungles of Vietnam and the young man or woman patrolling the mountains of Afghanistan, we remember and honor them all.

Thank you for attending today. God bless you and your families, God bless our troops and God bless America.


Ruger Guru
Sep 18, 2002
Lake Lure NC USA
Jim, you have done well.
As a vet, I slowly read each paragraph & felt things. I may not have been in combat,,, but my Dad, my Brother, & 3 of my uncles did.
My son wasn't able to get in the military due to asthma, but he became a LEO. I have tried to show him how proud of him I am, and to never feel as if he didn't do his duty.

Your son has done his duty, as so many others have. I appreciate each & every person who served honorably.
Your words here are quite good.


Dec 7, 2008
Wesley Chapel, Florida
Very good; BUT you might want to mention that the original Lexington served during WW2 and was lost in one of those battles taking down some good men with her.

My Dad served aboard her during her search for Amelia Earhart when Amelia was lost in the South Pacific during her "round the world" flight.


Aug 28, 2011
Western Colorado
That was written from the heart with much thought. I never served in the Armed Forces and neither of my Sons served but I understand everything you have said and I have seen DVD's and read books on all the conflicts and Veterans Day is a very special day to me and all Patriots !!!!!!
Mar 6, 2006
Alabama Gulf Coast
Jim, great speech. I wish I could hear it presented live by your son. Tomorrow there is a dedication of a Coast Guard monument at the USS Alabama Memorial Park. There will be a special tribute to the Mobile Aviation Training Center (ATC) for rescuing over 4,000 people in the aftermath of Katrina. The CG in total rescued over 30,000 after that storm.

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