SCOTTSBORO, Alabama -- Before an estimated 150 people at the Scottsboro Veterans of Foreign Wars Veterans Day Program on Monday, Maj. Gen. Jeff Drushal, commander of the Security Assistance Command, spoke of honoring veterans - both past and present - and their families for their service and sacrifice for the United States."Veterans Day is a celebration of all those who have served and continue to serve our nation with honor and distinction," he said. "Each year, we set this day aside all across the country to celebrate and pay tribute to America's veterans for their devotion, patriotism, selfless service and sacrifice on behalf of us all."This year marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I in Europe."For nearly a century, we have celebrated this day on the anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I," Drushal said. "On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the battlefields of Europe fell silent after more than four years of fierce and intense fighting."All Americans should accept the responsibility to ensure the service and sacrifices of our veterans are not overlooked or forgotten."Drushal thanked Jackson County veterans George Jones, Jack Livingston and Ernie England for their service."Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jones served as an OH-6 Cayuse scout helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War. He was a young man of 21 at the time, yet time and again, he flew his 'Easter egg' just four to five feet off the ground looking for trouble."Navy Radarman 3rd Class Livingston served on a tank landing ship during World War II. The war in the Pacific ended on his 19th birthday, Aug. 14, 1945, while his ship was anchored in Saipan Harbor. Livingston later served as an attorney in the Army Reserve."And we say 'thank you' to Ernie England, who passed away earlier this year. He was a special veteran - having served during World War II, the Korea conflict and Vietnam. He piloted landing craft in the Pacific during World War II, was a courier during Korea and an adviser in Vietnam before the war started."As we honor the legacy of our veterans, we also pay tribute to those still serving today, Drushal said.
"You will be proud to know in this past year, Jackson County had 51 recruits - 12 of them Army."Drushal said proximity to the battlefield does not correlate to impact; work being done at Redstone Arsenal is critical to protecting Soldier's in harm's way, and USASAC works with allies and partners around the world to build partner capacity."One of the biggest reasons they choose to work with the U.S. military is because they trust us," Drushal said. "They have seen how dedicated and honorable the men and women who serve this country are. Our veterans earned their respect."He encouraged the audience to remember veterans and remain constantly vigilant that the freedoms they secured and the security they defended are not threatened or taken for granted.
"Our Soldiers represent the best our nation has to offer. They are the heart, the soul and the spirit of the greatest nation on the planet," he said."They carry on the proud legacy and traditions of our nation's veterans who have, throughout our history, kept us free, returned home and continued to serve our nation in a multitude of ways. Today, we say thanks to them all."