As we celebrate Veterans Day, I wanted to take a moment to share with you what this day means to me. I’m proud to come from a family of veterans, and I was born while my Dad was in Vietnam. When I think about veterans, he’s the first to come to mind. He loves America, served her well, and encouraged me to do the same. In early 2003, I was in Kuwait on my third deployment waiting for the war with Iraq to begin. My Dad, who is naturally reserved and quiet, sent me an email. In it he wrote, “Look out for your fellow soldiers and do the right thing, and everything will be ok”. Then he added, “If I could have one wish, it would be to trade places with you.” I know those words spring from the heart of a father, but they also spring from the heart of a veteran. The most incredible thing about veterans is that they are willing to put themselves up for you and me every single day. And that’s why it’s so important to honor them. To those who served, happy Veterans Day, and thank you. America is better because of you.
I learned many important lessons during my years of service, and I’d like to share two of those lessons with you. The first lesson is that we all need to do our part, but we’re all in this together. Soldiers who serve in combat understand this, and I wish that we, as Americans, could better understand this too, because it’s true. We need to remember that, regardless of who we are, where we come from or who we vote for, regardless of all the issues that we allow to divide us, we need each other. We’re all in this together, and we need to commit to working together to fulfill America’s promise.
The second lesson is more sobering, and it is that tomorrow isn’t promised. Soldiers understand this on a visceral level, and we mourn those for whom tomorrow was not promised. We should keep this lesson in mind when we think about America. Our today was made possible because those who came before us promised to leave us something better – and they did. We honor them, and all America's veterans by making the same promise ourselves. There is no better way to thank our veterans than to let their lives inspire us to make our country strong and free.