Every day, in the shadow of the Gold Star Memorial Bridge, hundreds of local residents and visitors pass by an imposing conning tower and the polished granite wall of honor that encompass the Submarine Veterans of World War II Memorial East.
And whether by design or by impulse, many stop – drawn by these compelling visible reminders that the liberty and prosperity our Nation enjoys have been purchased… purchased by the sacrifice and service of 48 million men and women, who since our Nation’s founding, have donned the uniform and proudly stepped forward to defend our freedoms.
On Veterans Day, across our great land, Americans gather in public events or in private prayer to recognize these valiant men and women of our Armed Forces.
Ever since the first Veteran’s Day, originally “Armistice Day,” was established in 1919, Americans have paused to salute the service and remember the sacrifice of the men and women who have kept us free.
And many of those who gather can count themselves among our Nation’s more than 21 million living veterans.
Veterans past and present who have worn the cloth of our great Nation and contributed so much to guarding and maintaining the liberties we cherish.
President John F. Kennedy once said “in the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in the hour of its maximum danger…”
September 11, 2001 rung in that hour for the generation of active duty military members serving today.
We have been “granted the role of defending freedom.”
We view that critical mission as a sacred privilege and we follow in a long line of those that met and mastered that “maximum danger.”
I have the honor and pleasure of serving with some of these young men and women as I lead Naval Submarine Base New London.
These young service members support and crew the fifteen attack submarines stationed there.
They remind me everyday that the true strength of our Navy and our Nation does not lie in any aircraft, ship, submarine, sensor, or weapon.
The true strength of our great Nation and Navy lies in its men and women – America’s finest!
They follow an extraordinary legacy of honor, courage, and commitment; a legacy fashioned and forged by selfless service and sacrifice; a legacy passed onto them by the veterans they follow.
In the early days of the Second World War, Gen. George C. Marshall was asked if America had a secret weapon to win the conflict.
He replied that we did have such a weapon — he called it “the best darn kids in the world.”
I can assure you that the “best darn kids” still wear this Nation’s uniform!
I, for one, could not be prouder to serve with them and I thank you for all that you do to support them.
So this Veterans Day, I ask you to join me in saluting all those who wear or have worn the cloth of this great Nation.
I feel fortunate to enjoy the peace, liberty, and security that they have provided my family, my community, and my Nation.