We owe a debt to those who have served this nation, a debt greater than we know sometimes. I did not wear the uniform but my father and grandfather did. Dad served in the late 1950s, between WWII and Vietnam; he was too young for Korea and had completed his four-year stint by the time things started heating up in Southeast Asia. My grandfather did see action in the Great War; my understanding is that he was in France in 1918 but managed to get through it without suffering any injuries, which was pretty amazing considering the carnage of that war. The picture I've included here is of the American cemetery at Somme; over 1,800 Americans died there.
Dad once told me that he and his father had served because they had to, but that I was fortunate enough to come of age at a time when I didn't have to serve. But he also told me that I would be foolish to think that we were past the time when young men would have to die on battlefields. He also told me that I should thank veterans for their service. Dad was right about all these things.
So today I thank everyone who has worn the uniform and especially thank those who gave their life to defend my freedom. It is our great fortune that so many have been willing to answer the call.