My fellow citizens, we are blessed to have the greatest military that this earth has ever seen. It is well manned, well equipped, well trained, and well respected. It is also under represented, underappreciated, and under cared for. However, this is about to change.
I reflect back on the Greatest Generation. Emerging out of the Great Depression, we enlisted over 16 million military personnel into the Armed Forces of the United States as we prepared to fight and win World War II. This was fully 11 percent of our nation’s populace. They came from all corners of the country and all walks of life. From Los Angeles, CA to Westfield, NY, from laborers’ sons to lawyers’ daughters. The nation consistently backed them during the war, welcomed them home at the end of the war, and took care of them after the war. Just as the soldiers mobilized for the war, the Great American People mobilized for them after the war; sending their sons and daughters to college, hiring them in huge numbers in industry, providing home loans, and providing them the medical care they needed. In return, these heroes again provided the nation a great service as they moved into business, science, medical, arts, and political fields. There they helped catapult our cherished nation into a great economic, military, and political superpower; able to exert our influence on a global scale.
I stand here before you today to tell you that, we as a nation need to remobilize behind our nation’s heroes, our national treasures. We need to consistently think about them, understand them and support them. Since the Vietnam War, our own sons and daughters, our military personnel, have fought just as long and just as hard as their forbearers did. However, we as a nation have not always backed them like we backed their predecessors. The military today is just as important as ever, as the complexity of the world increases. They are there to defend us and our national interests. And they have consistently done so in truly remarkable fashion. However, they are sometimes forgotten as we Americans move though our daily lives. Today’s military represents only about three quarters of one percent of our nation’s populace. It is still represented from most corners of the country, but no longer in such depth and no longer from most walks of life. Mostly gone are soldiers from doctors’ families, lawyers’ families, politicians’ families, and soldiers from wealthy families. It is left to the rest of society to send their children to protect and defend us. But that is ok, so long as we support and defend them in return. We must mobilize for them as they return home.
My fellow citizens we will start today. Start to recognize and mobilize around our own sons and daughters, our own soldiers, our own national treasures. They are part of our nation’s heart and soul. Our national conscience dictates that we think about them, thank them, support them, send them to college, hire them in industry, and provide them the medical care they need. They sacrificed greatly for us and our great nation. We must now return the favor. We are Americans, and that is what Americans do. So I ask you to join me in creating the next Great Generation. The Generation of Americans that will win the War on Terror, then move on to other areas of our society to help jump start our economy, to solve the hard issues of today and tomorrow, to help maintain our nation’s status as a great economic, military, and political superpower. All this we must and will do. For them, for us, and for our great nation.
Thank you. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.
Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) U.S. Army
Westfield Class of ‘79