A salute to Veterans:
Today we honor those who have served in the armed forces of this great country during times of war and peace and those times which were neither war nor peace. We salute equally the combat forces, the logistics movers, planners, administrators and the too often forgotten support forces.
Here's to the men who fought on the beaches in France, Italy and North Africa. And to the men who fought on the beaches of Tarawa, Guam, Palau and Iwo Jima. And to those who flew the heavy bombers over Europe (where the 8th Air Force sustained the highest casualty rate of any unit in WWII). To the Flying Tigers and the Tin Can sailors and the Jeep Carrier crews and to the battleship sailors and the submariners, too. Here's to the Coast Guardsmen who drove the landing craft and kept watch over our shores. Here's to the men who organized the convoys that got the cargo to our troops and our allies. Here's to the armed guards who served on the lumbering merchants. Here's to the Merchant Marine, too.
Here's to the men who held the line in Korea until help could arrive. Here's to that help. Here's to the advisors in Vietnam and to every soldier, Marine, airman, and sailor who served during that long struggle. Here's to the volunteers and the draftees.
Here's to the doctors and nurses. Here's to the corpsmen - often the bravest of the brave.
Here's to the cooks and the bakers and the guy who peeled potato after potato. Here's to the mess cooks who made coffee for the midwatch and brought doughnuts to the early morning dogs.
Here's to the truck drivers and the fuelers and the boiler tenders and the boatswain mates, quartermasters, the gunner's mates and the stewards and the laundrymen and the hundreds of thousands of men and women who served in jobs that do not make for exciting war stories, but which made - and still make - a huge difference.
Here's to the men who flew the B-36, B-47 and B-52 bombers during the Cold War. Here's to the interceptor pilots and crews. Here's to the men who scrambled to their aircraft and took off not knowing if this scramble was for real or not. Here's to the crew chief, mechanics and base engineers who had the planes and runways ready. Here's to the missileers, deep in their silos. To the Fleet Ballistic Missile submariners and to the DEW line crews. Here's to the forgotten men and women who stood on guard somewhere every day of every year.
Here's to the reservists, the National Guard - here's to "one weekend a month and two weeks a year" that has so often turned out to be much, much more.
Here's to the paratroopers, the cavalry, the Special Forces, the SEALS, the UDT, the EOD, the Delta Force, the Air Commandos, the Marine Recon, the Rangers - the "sharp end of the stick." Here's to the clerk-typists who complete the paperwork. Here's to the "boot pushers' - the DI's- who shape the raw material they are given into something useful.
Here's to the guards, the MPs, the Shore Patrol. Here's to every person who ever walked a post and recited the duties of a sentry ("to walk my post in a military manner..."). Here's to every quarterdeck watch who stood the mid and made sure the drunks got safely to bed.
And here's a salute to all these Veterans and to all the rest who served in the armed forces of this great country during times of war and peace and those times which were neither war nor peace.
Thank you. God bless you. Happy Veterans Day!
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