July 23, 2012 -- CSA Remarks VFW National Convention - Ike Award Acceptance (As Delivered)
July 25, 2012
Thank you so much. First, I'd like to thank everyone. It's inspiring to see so many Veterans who have journeyed from across the United States to be here this week. I am both honored and humbled to receive the Eisenhower Distinguished Service Award, and this means a great deal to me. The former 34th President of the United States and also the 16th Army Chief of Staff, Dwight D. Eisenhower once remarked that: "Humility must always be the portion of any man who receives acclaim earned in blood of his followers and sacrifices of his friends." So today, I'd like to pay tribute to the service of thousands of military men and women who have served this Nation honorably in combat, as well the thousands of Veterans who have been wounded and permanently disabled, and finally to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice to defend what is so sacred to us today -- our freedom. I accept this award in their honor. (Applause)
For the past 113 years, the Veterans of Foreign Wars has prominently invested in the welfare of military Veterans, as your motto so aptly states that 'no one does more for our Veterans.' In that light, I'd like to recognize Rich DeNoyer, VFW Commander in Chief, and Gwen Rankin, National President of the Ladies Auxiliary. On behalf of the 2 million members of the VFW, thank you both for your leadership and your service, and for hosting this spectacular event. (Applause)
The Veterans of Foreign Wars is one of our Nation's most iconic organizations. You represent generations of United States Veterans, linked by service and dedication to our Nation. Your service did not end when you hung-up your uniform. Through functions like this one, you have continued to serve this Nation and give voice to the lessons of those who have defended freedom. Your efforts have indeed shaped the very structure of our military and how we secure this Nation. For that, I -- and all of us -- are eternally grateful. This year, we are observing the 60th Commemoration of the Korean War and the 50th Commemoration of the start of the Vietnam War. I know that many of you here today served in those conflicts and I want to thank you for your service then and the service now that you provide our Nation today.
A lesson we have learned from President Eisenhower's generation, the Greatest Generation, is that the service and sacrifice of a single generation can leave all of us a better life, and in turn, our children, our grand-children, and our grandchildren's children. To all the members of the VFW, I salute you for your service in conflict on foreign soils. You did not serve for money, easy work, or glory. Rather, you served out of love for your country, your Families, and each other. Every time we asked you to pack your duffle bags and move out, you did so with no questions asked. You understand words like duty, honor, and country. You also understand words like fear, hunger, fatigue, loneliness, and death. During your time in service, on battlefields far from home, you exemplified words like courage, compassion, bravery, compassion, bravery, valor, and loyalty.
It is because of you, our Veterans, that we enjoy freedom and our American way of life. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, "never before have so many owed so less to so few". America remains the Land of the Free because of the Brave. (Applause)
However, we also realize that behind Veterans are Moms and Dads, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. The Families and loved ones of our Veterans are unsung heroes. They are the ones that patiently waited and kept the home fire burning, writing letters and hoping their loved ones would safely return. Their caring love and unwavering support are also essential to our Nation's strength, so it is fitting that we thank them.
So I'd like to recognize the support of the Ladies Auxiliary and all Family members, and thank you for your steadfast commitment to our Veterans. Every year, thousands of these Service members transition from active and reserve status to Veterans. The Army recently instituted the "Soldier for Life Campaign" to help transition our Soldiers from the Army.
This program will help our newest Veterans enter an established network to connect them with the resources required to support a successful reentry into the workforce. As we move forward, I ask all Veterans to help us ensure that Americans know that our newest Veterans are stronger for the experience and ready to lead in the workforce as they have led overseas. Like you, they are selfless, disciplined, innovative, and have lived with moral and ethical courage. This makes them a welcome addition to any organization or company.
They join your ranks with great pride, eager to continue their service to our great Nation. It is incumbent on us to ensure America understands their tremendous potential. Today as I stand in front of you, I am incredibly proud of the over 1.3 million service men and women who have deployed in defense of this Nation since 2001. This generation of young men and women has remained steadfast and committed to our Nation's security. They will join you as special Americans who are experienced in the defense of freedom. I am dedicated to ensuring that we remain committed to these great Americans, like you, who have served and continue to serve our Nation.
I dedicate this award to them. Thank you again for the tremendous honor. Thank you for what you do. Thank you for what you represent. Thank you for serving. It's my honor to stand here in front of you today. May God bless our military and God bless America. Thank you so much. (Applause)