NATICK, Mass. (Nov. 14, 2016) -- At the town's Veterans Day ceremony Nov. 11, Brig. Gen. Thomas H. Todd III, senior commander of the Natick Soldier Systems Center, spoke of the town's unparalleled commitment to those who served their country.

"Having served 27 years in the Army, I've lived all around the world, and my assignment at Natick …holds a special place in (my) heart," Todd said. "Take a walk around this community and see how they honor their veterans -- seventy-three squares in the community dedicated to members who served and seven memorials to those from Natick who paid the ultimate sacrifice."

Todd also noted that Natick's Morse Institute Library is home to the Commonwealth's first oral history project for veterans, more than 300 of whom have shared their stories.

"The Systems Center, dedicated to our Soldiers, is one team really with a mission of Soldier Success," Todd said. "This community is a tremendous part of that team, and we are so blessed to be part of this community.

"Since the first shots at Lexington and Concord were fired and our Revolutionary War began, men and women from Natick have been answering the call of duty."

Todd spoke of the many campaigns fought by American service members to preserve the nation's freedoms.

"We remember and honor all of them," Todd said. "Veteran status isn't something that is handed to you. It is something that is earned."

Though they come from all walks of life, said Todd, veterans share fundamental qualities.

"They possess courage, pride, determination, selflessness, dedication to duty and integrity," Todd said. "Each of those qualities are needed to serve a cause larger than one's self."

He then asked all the veterans in attendance to raise their hands.

"Thank you for raising your right hand and swearing to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic," Todd said. "Thank you for rising to the nation's call to duty. Thank you for your service not just while you are in uniform, but your service to our community."

Many veterans continue to serve others, Todd said.

"Some have coached Little League, some have served in the local government, and some have served in our churches," Todd said. "Service for veterans doesn't end when they hang up the uniform."

Todd pointed out that he and his family had moved 15 times in his 27 years of service, which have included multiple deployments.

"It would not have been possible without the amazing support of my family -- my wife, specifically," Todd said. "Our military families go through so much because of our service."

Quoting Abraham Lincoln, Todd said: "Honor the Soldier and Sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country's cause. Honor, also, to the citizen who cares for his brother in the field and serves, as best he can, the same cause."

Todd called on the audience to honor service members not just on Veterans Day but every day.

"It truly has been an honor to be with an amazing group of heroes this morning -- our veterans," Todd said. "Today, as we honor our veterans, please take a moment and say a prayer for those serving in harm's way and the families who are missing them today."