Nov. 11, 2009 - Harvard Memorial Church Veteran's Day Ceremony
November 13, 2009
Remarks as delivered by Gen. George W. Casey Jr.
Harvard Memorial Church Veteran's Day Ceremony
Nov. 11, 2009
Thank you Paul Mawn. Thank you Reverend Gomes. You will be a tough act to follow. President Faust, it's great to be here with you today. It's a special honor for me to be speaking here on Veteran's Day in this chapel, as my Dad's name is on one of those plaques...just over there. He was a part of Harvard's Class of 1945.
Captain Hudner-it's great to see you, Sir, and you honor us with your presence. Most importantly, though, I'd like-on Veteran's Day-to ask all of our Veterans to stand up-past and present.
We celebrate this Veteran's Day-as we do every year-to commemorate the men and women of our armed forces...who-throughout our history-have served and sacrificed so much that we might live in freedom. Throughout our history, our freedom-and the freedom of others-has been bought through the sacrifices and selfless service of men and women like those we honor today, and those who memories are enshrined on the memorials of this chapel.
Last year on Memorial Day, after I participated in a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier [in Washington], I went down and delivered a speech at the Vietnam Memorial. And then, my wife and I walked from there to the Korean War Memorial and from there to the World War II Memorial. As we did that, I was struck by two things: I was struck first by the scope of the sacrifice from those wars. The second thing I was struck with was how lucky we are as a country to have men and women who not only believe in the values and ideals that this country stands for, but are willing to fight for them and what they believe in. Such memorials-like the ones I visited that day-tie us to the heroes of our past, and whether it's a monument on the National Mall, a plaque on the wall in a chapel or a modest headstone in the Bourne [Massachusetts] National Cemetery-it is by remembering the sacrifices of those who have gone before us that we will be sure to cherish those values and freedoms that they strove to win, to preserve and to protect. This chapel and this plaque will make sure that we never forget the best examples of service to our nation.
Our Veterans inspire us to not take for granted the values, the ideals, and freedoms that we have in this great country. They remind us that those freedoms are not free.
Throughout our collective histories, both Harvard and the United States military have produced leaders of character and intellect. Leaders like those on the plaque we will soon unveil. From the Civil War: leaders like Manning Force, Charles Phelps, Horace Porter, Hazard Stevens, Henry Lawton, and Henry Huidekoper. And there's Leonard Wood, who was one of my predecessors as Chief of Staff of the Army. From the Spanish American War: Theodore Roosevelt. From the US-Mexican War: Walter Hill. From World War I: George McMurtry, Charles Whittlesey, and Claud Jones. From World War II: Pierpont Hamilton and Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. From the Korean War: Sherrod Skinner, Jr. And, from the Vietnam War: Robert Murray.
What they all have in common is selflessness-selflessness to others and selflessness to country. That spirit of selflessness is also being recognized today. At this very time, in the Bourne National Cemetery, the Medal of Honor headstone of our country's newest Medal of Honor recipient-Sergeant First Class Jared Monti-who happens to come from Raynham, Massachusetts, is being replaced. Sergeant First Class Monti is decorated for gallantry and intrepidity in action in June 2006 in Afghanistan.
Yesterday, at a Memorial Ceremony at Fort Hood, Texas-when speaking about Veteran's Day-President Obama said, "But as we honor many generations who have served, all of us-every single American-must acknowledge that this generation has more than proved itself equal to those who've come before." Jared Monti represents a new generation of heroes that this country can be proud of. He joins the heroes we recognize today.
Thank you very much.