By Brig. Gen. Michael J. LallyNovember 12, 2008
A special good morning to our Veterans, Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors and Marines, and guests of the 3rd ESC. Thank you for joining us as we observe Veteran's Day and the largest mass-reenlistment at Joint Base Balad...274 Soldiers & Airmen...awe inspiring!
Fantastic 5K Race to start the day with over 1600 runners. Event was organized by 840th DDSB.
I especially want to welcome CSM Hill and CSM Wilson from MNF-I, CSM Allen from MNC-I.
COL John Dolan, Vice Cdr and Command Chief Master Sergeant David Williamson from the 332 AEW, Tuskegee Airman.
Thanks to our Guest Speaker Mr Robert Guess.
To the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marine of the Joint Color Guard you look great. You each represent your Service extremely well.
SSG Cotti and members of the 4th Infantry Division Band - you look great and add class, dignity and honor wherever you perform. Thanks for being here with us today.
Joint Base Balad Quartet consisting of SGT Olson, MAJ Green, CPT Green and Master Chief Berry you sounded great!
SSG Lockert - thank you - great voice & song.
Finally, I'd like to recognize a behind the scenes Soldier whose determination, grit, and hard work made today's event possible. SFC Adam McKinney - where are you' He's probably out in the parking lot signing up another re-enlistee! Raise your hand. Ladies and gentlemen - a round of applause please for this great American who turned this great idea into reality...and did all the behind the scenes work over the past two months to make this happen.
It is a privilege to be here today amongst so many who serve and have served. As we gather together here on Veteran's Day, we really have two purposes. First, we remember and honor the men and women of our Armed Forces who have come together to fight for a common cause. Second - we celebrate Sustainer Strong and recognize the renewed sacrifice demonstrated by the truly amazing and outstanding Soldiers and Airman on this stage.
Serving one's country is a noble calling and, I believe, among life's greatest work. Whether it is as a member of the Armed Forces, a member of the public services, or being a good citizen. For our Nation to be successful, the Nation must be willing to serve.
We are here today to thank living veterans for their service to our Nation and recognize that all who have served our country, not just those that have died, have made sacrifices and done their duty.
Veterans of every era, every background and every branch of service have certain things in common: Patriotism; love of country; commitment to excellence; personal courage and selfless service to our Nation. Their shared experiences forged bonds that last a lifetime.
Veterans live by a strict code of discipline. Veterans understand the meaning of personal accountability, loyalty and shared sacrifice. From the moment you repeated the oath to the day of your honorable discharge, your selfless service to our country came before all else. And whether you served abroad or at home, you shared in the responsibility of maintaining the finest fighting force in the world.
As Sustainers - we often speak in terms of rounds, gallons, number of vehicles & weapons, and tons. But our most powerful weapons in war - our most precious commodities without a doubt, are the brave men and women in uniform.
After the Revolutionary War, President George Washington said, "we owe Veterans a debt of gratitude, indeed a debt of honor." So, just as we gather here today - back home our fellow Americans will gather together in parades, luncheons, memorial services, and other remembrances to pay tribute to our Veterans.
Today is a chance for us all to thank those who have selflessly answered the call, and to remember those who have served.
I know we have some Veterans here today. At this time, I invite anyone who has served in the military to stand. [Address standing Veterans]:
Speaking on behalf of all those wearing uniform of all colors and services, I am proud to stand side-by-side, shoulder-to-shoulder with you here today. Every morning we wake to serve for a country made free because of men and women like you. Ladies and gentlemen - our country's Veterans. [applause]
As I said before our first purpose is to take time today to thank those that have come before us. Veteran's Day is a time to thank and honor EVERY American who has answered the call to duty and served in the military - especially those who have served during times of war guarding our country and its way of life.
But our second purpose here today is also important. We gather today to remind ourselves that our mission as fighting men and women must continue. And to continue - we must have those that are willing, able, and are inspired to raise their hands again and again to be counted with those that came before them.
These volunteers today (Active, NG, Reserve, AF) - this new generation of Veterans - come from all walks of life. They represent many different races, ethnic and religious groups. They come from all across America too. Our volunteers here today are men and women from small towns like Bald Knob, Arkansas, Ironton, Missouri, Shadyside, Ohio and Gunbarell, Texas. They come from big cities too like Brooklyn, Chicago, Miami, Houston and Indianapolis. And they come from across the seas - like Pago Pago, American Samoa and Rio Grande, Puerto Rico. But regardless of their homes - like so many Veterans - they've answered their Nation's call to service.
Yet today they share a common bond with the American Veterans that have gone before them. They swear an oath of allegiance to the Constitution and go where sent and do what is asked. These common men and women have always done, and will continue to do, uncommon things.
While history records the valor of the American Veteran in terms of units and armies and forces, the role of the American Veteran is the story of each individual who has answered the call of duty. The stories of those in front of you are still being written. Today - another chapter has begun. Wherever they go, whatever they do - each story will be different. Each will contain trials, and deployments, and tales from lands yet to be seen. However the common theme in each will be their selfless service and their universal commitment. Please join me in thanking them again for their actions today. [applause]
In closing like to paraphrase a quote from Steven Ambrose's book Band of Brothers. "If someone were to ask me today if I considered myself a hero - I would say no - but I would say I served in the company of heroes." Today I definitely consider myself in the company of heroes - past present and future.
Thank you for coming to observe this day of reflection and appreciation, and to witness this massive reenlistment. May God bless our Veterans, our Soldiers serving in harm's way and may God continue to bless the United States of America.
It's time to reenlist these great men and women.
Sustaining the Line!