Pence and Esper Commemorate Veterans Day 2019 at Arlington

Vice President Mike Pence and Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper honor veterans during the 66th annual Veterans Day observance at Arlington National Cemetery, November 11, 2019.

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[Soldier] Colors halt. Ready to. Present.

Present arms.

“The Star Spangled Banner”

Order, right shoulder arms. Present.

Present arms.



Right shoulder arms.

[Announcer] The ceremony is now going to be begin.

♪ Glory glory hallelujah ♪ ♪ His truth is marching on ♪ ♪ Glory glory hallelujah ♪ ♪ Glory glory hallelujah ♪ ♪ Glory glory hallelujah ♪ ♪ His truth is marching on ♪ ♪ I have seen him in the watch-fires ♪ ♪ Of a hundred circling camps ♪ ♪ They have builded him an altar ♪ ♪ In the evening dews and damps ♪ ♪ I can read his righteous sentence ♪ ♪ in the dim and flaring lamps, ♪ ♪ His day is marching on. ♪ ♪ Glory glory hallelujah ♪ ♪ Glory glory hallelujah ♪ ♪ Glory glory hallelujah ♪ ♪ His truth is marching on ♪ ♪ In the beauty ♪ ♪ Of the lilies ♪ ♪ Christ was born across the sea ♪ ♪ With a glory in his bosom ♪ ♪ That transfigures you and me ♪ ♪ As he died to make men holy, ♪ ♪ Let us die to make men free ♪ ♪ While God is marching on. ♪ ♪ Glory glory hallelujah ♪ ♪ Glory glory hallelujah ♪ ♪ Glory glory hallelujah ♪ ♪ His truth is marching on ♪ ♪ Glory glory hallelujah ♪ ♪ Glory glory hallelujah ♪ ♪ Glory glory hallelujah ♪ ♪ His truth is marching on ♪ ♪ Amen ♪ ♪ Amen ♪

[Announcer] Ladies and gentlemen, Major General Omar Jones IV commanding general of the United States Military District of Washington. Miss Karen Durham-Aguilera, Executive Director, Army National Military cemeteries. Mr. Frank Kowalski, national commander Catholic War Veterans of the United States. And the Honorable Robert Wilkie, Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Vice President of the United States.

“Hail Columbia”

Ladies and gentlemen, please remain standing for the procession of our nation’s colors and those of our veterans’ service organizations. As we march on the colors, the United States Army Band, Pershing’s Own, will play the national emblem march. Please place your hand over your heart or render a hand salute.

“National Emblem March”

Ladies and gentlemen, please remain standing for the invocation given by chaplain Juliana Lesher, National Director of Chaplain Service for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Let us pray. Almighty and loving God. On this day we honor our American veterans. The men and women of this nation who selflessly committed their very lives to honor and defend the freedoms that we cherish as Americans. Our veterans know that freedom is not free, and comes with a significant sacrifice for those who faithfully serve, as well as for their families and loved ones. For the devoted service of our American veterans, we are grateful. We also are grateful to you God for your strengthening presence. Our veterans have felt your sustaining presence while standing watch in the dark night’s silence at a lonely outpost, worlds away from home or on a ship in a distant and hostile sea. Our veterans have felt your protective presence in the horrible heat of combat or flying in the darkening clouds across your infinite sky. Our veterans have felt your abiding presence as they attended to our wounded and tortured comrades in their cries the pain and among those whose earthly struggle had ceased. For your strengthening, sustaining, protective and abiding presence, we are grateful. May the ceremonies this day inspire our hearts to uphold the values of faith and understanding, life and human dignity, love and justice and continued aspiration to sacrificial service, as exemplified by our service members and veterans. We pray all of this in your most holy and loving name, amen.

Now, I’d like to invite Mr. Frank Kowalski, national commander, Catholic War Veterans of the United States to lead us in our pledge of allegiance.

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Please be seated. It is now my distinct privilege to introduce the members of the Veterans Day National Committee. The committee was formed by presidential order in 1954 to plan this annual observance in honor of America’s veterans and to support Veterans Day observances throughout the nation. Please hold your applause until I’ve introduced these special guests. If you’re able, please stand when your name is called. Mr. Thomas Zampieri national president blinded Veterans Association. Mr. Harvey Weiner national commander, Jewish War Veterans of the USA, Mr. Thomas Burke, national vice president, Vietnam Veterans of America. Mr. William Doc Schmitz commander in chief Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. Miss Donna M Jansky national president, Fleet Reserve Association. Miss Jan C. Brown, national commander, AMVETS. Mr. Kenneth Lissamore national commander, the Army and Navy Union USA Incorporated. Mr. John Ostrowski national president Noncommissioned Officers Association of the USA. Mr. Bruce Feuerbach national vice commander the American Legion. Mr. Charles Eggleston, National Region One commander Military Order of the Purple Heart. Mr. Dennis Tobin, national Commandant, Marine Corps league Mr. William D Roswaff, Executive Director, military chaplains association of the USA Mr. David Zurfluh, national president Paralyzed Veterans of America. Mr. George M. Malone Jr, national commander, Legion of Valor of the USA. Mr. Charles S. Chamberlain, Commander in Chief Military Order of the World Wars. Mr. Philip J. Hilinski national president, the retired enlisted Association. Mr. Brian Buker, DC agent, Congressional Medal of Honor Society of the USA. Mr. Stephen Butch Whitehead, national commander, Disabled American Veterans. Mr. Dan Merry, Vice President of government relations, Military Officers Association of America. Miss Karen Munoz, board chair, commissioned officers association of the United States Public Health Service. Michael R. Carton, international president Air Force Sergeants Association. Mr. Stephen Wojciechowski, Maryland State commander, Polish legion of American Veterans USA. Dr. Paul H. Cunningham, national president, Korean War Veterans Association of the USA. Mr. Lawrence G. Romo national commander, American GI Forum of the United States. The associate members of the committee are located in the boxes to my left. I’d like to ask the presidents and national commanders that comprise our associate membership to stand and be recognized. Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in recognizing our veterans national leadership with your applause. (audience applauding) It is now my pleasure to introduce the executive director, Army National Military cemeteries Miss Karen Durham-Aguilera.

Good morning, on behalf of the Secretary of the Army, welcome to Arlington National Cemetery. Thank you, Mr. Vice President for being here today and for honoring our nation’s veterans. Welcome also to the honorable Dan Quayle, former Vice President and his family for attending today. To Secretary of Defense Esper, and Mrs. Esper, Secretary the VA Wilkie and Mrs. Wilkie, the senior official before me the duties of Undersecretary of the Army, the Honorable Jim MacPherson, Chief of Staff of the Army General McConville and Mrs. McConville. Welcome, Mr. Frank Kowalski of the Catholic war veterans, thank you for being the veteran service organization’s host and for your participation in this important national observance. And to all dignitaries, our veterans and our families here today, and everyone watching across the great nation. Thank you, what a beautiful day. And it’s fitting that we are here in the center of these most hallowed grounds. Today is a celebration of honor, duty and patriotism. Here at Arlington National Cemetery we are surrounded by over 400,000 soldiers, sailors, Marines Airmen, and Coast Guardmen and their families who have proudly served our nation in peacetime and in war. Their headstones are the brick that formed the foundation of the city on the hill, that beacon of hope that is our United States. Stories of the service and sacrifice we celebrate today are etched in marble all around us. From the inscriptions on gravestones to the Tomb of the Unknown soldiers, most important are the patriotism, valor and fidelity, etched in the hearts and souls of our service members, past, present and future, who are the vanguard of our freedom and our liberty. Today as for the past 155 years, Arlington National Cemetery is honored to serve our veterans and their families at our nation’s most sacred shrine. No place at Arlington National Cemetery could ever be purchased. Each must be earned through honorable service. On behalf of our dedicated men and women who serve here, it is my privilege to welcome you today. We are a great people honoring sacrifice and service to grateful nation. Again, thank you and welcome to Arlington National Cemetery.

I would now like to introduce our Veterans Service Organization host for 2019. The Catholic War Veterans Association of the USA. The Catholic War Veterans Association of the United States of America is honored to serve as the host organization for the 2019 Veterans Day national commemoration at Arlington National Cemetery. The Catholic War Veterans Association is incorporated as a nonprofit corporation that meets the requirements for a Veteran Service Organization under Section 501c19 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and is organized under the laws of the state of New York. Under its motto for God, country, and home, the Catholic war veterans is dedicated to serving returning veterans. Together with other veteran service organizations, it seeks to educate and influence public opinion, promote good laws, and serve veterans as they look for benefits, counseling, representation and employment opportunities. The Catholic War Veterans Association is represented today by their national president. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Mr. Frank Kowalski.

Mr. Vice President, members of the clergy, Secretary Veterans Affairs, members of Congress, my fellow veterans and guests welcome. Today’s an extraordinary day on our national calendar. We come here to this hallowed place for sacred purpose. We set aside this day to honor and thank all our veterans throughout our history, most of whom are just average citizens who proudly embraced and then distinguished the uniform of our country. We are here to remember and pray for those who gave their last full measure of devotion, whether on land, at sea, or in the air, we give special thanks for those who returned safely to their families and resumed their lives to help build this great country. In particular, we salute those who came home with the scars of war, who continue to fight daily against mental, emotional, and physical disabilities. We can never thank them and support them enough. They are an inspiration to us all. Veterans Day has become an important reminder of our national heritage. The devotion of our military forces has had a profound effect on the history of our nation and the world. We reflect on the selfless courage of the early patriots who fought a revolution to forge our freedom and soldiers on both sides of the Civil War, who would define the course of our nation. We cherish the dough boys of World War I who set the standard for American courage in combat, we admire the determination of our soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen who took the fight to the enemy in World War II, and prevailed by their valor and sheer power of will. Not only did they preserve our freedom, but they also made it possible to pursue a world at peace. That same commitment to the cause of peace and liberty has brought a fortress to the mountains of Korea, the jungles of Vietnam and the deserts of the Middle East. At each time and place, our veterans have distinguished themselves for their bravery and their care for those innocents caught up in the horrors of war. We recall following the courageous sacrifice of our doctors, nurses, clergy of all faiths, merchant mariners, Rosie the Riveters, and entertainers who stood shoulder to shoulder on the front lines in the factories and shipyards at home to demonstrate the best that America had to offer. Our commitment to peace remains the highest priority of these United States of America. It is the debt we owe to those who ironically had to go to war to preserve the peace. May we never forget the enormous sacrifices made by those who serve. Although I am privileged to represent the Catholic War Veterans of the United States of America, it is my great honor to also represent all veterans of every race, creed, color, and service on this special occasion. The Catholic War Veterans organization is honored to act as your host on this special day. We join our forces with yours to say may God bless all those who serve. May God continue to bless the United States of America. (audience applauding) It gives me great pleasure to introduce the 10th Secretary Veterans Affairs, the Honorable Robert Wilkie. Before coming to Virginia, Mr Wilkie was I’m sorry, Mr. Wilkie was under Secretary of Defense for personnel and readiness, the principal advisor to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense on total force management. As Under Secretary of Defense, Mr. Wilkie serve James Mattis as the Assistant Secretary of Defense. He served both Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates. Before that, Mr. Wilkie was Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and the Senior Director of the National Security Council. Currently he’s a colonel United States Air Force Reserve, and previously served in the Navy Reserve with the joined forces intelligence command, Naval Special Warfare Group two and the Office of Naval Intelligence. Ladies and gentlemen, VA Secretary Mr. Robert Wilkie.

Thank you, Mr. Kowalski, and to the Catholic War Veterans for this glorious day. Mr. Vice President, to my colleagues in the cabinet, to the veterans of the United States, to Chairman Takano of the house Veterans Affairs Committee, on behalf of the President of the United States, welcome to Arlington. Today we gather to honor veterans just across that river in the 1860s, Abraham Lincoln would ride alongside ambulances full of wounded soldiers, as they were taken to hospitals just north of the White House. And he would constantly ask them, “How are things going? “What are you seeing?” In those days, the weary president was constantly looking for ways to honor and to respect those who carried the nation’s future on their bayonets. He knew that if we were going to have a nation at all, it would be these men who would deliver our future. He thanked in 1864, the 189th New York volunteers, when he said, “To you who render the hardest work “in support of this nation, “should be given the greatest credit.” It was Lincoln, who set the tone for what we see today as our Department of Veterans Affairs. Generations after President Lincoln, Sergeant Alvin York showed America what it means to revere our country. And to revere those who defend our country. York was America’s greatest hero. But having returned from World War I, he was besieged by advertisers and Hollywood types, begging for his endorsements so they could profit from his heroics. He declined all those offers as only a mountain man from East Tennessee could he said, “This uniform ain’t for sale.” Years later, as the guns of Europe began to get closer and closer to the shores of our country, York reminded Americans again why his veterans fought. He said, “Liberty and freedom and democracy “are so very precious. “That you do not fight to win them once and then stop. “Liberty and freedom and democracies “are prizes awarded only to those people “who fight to win them “and then keep fighting eternally to hold them.” But in sometimes, despite what our veterans delivered support for veterans in this country has been fragile since Alvin York returned from France. In the 1930s veterans marched on this city and were greeted with tanks. Franklin Roosevelt knew what was going on. And as veteran saw his wife pass amongst them to say that all things would come right in the end, one private from Alvin York’s division said “They sent the army a few weeks ago, “and Roosevelt sent Eleanor.” A soldier of the first war Harry Truman knew what had gone wrong. And to make sure that those things didn’t happen again, he ordered his fellow Missourian Omar Bradley to take hold of the Department of Veterans Affairs known then, as the Veterans Administration. General Bradley built 150 hospitals. He administered educational benefits to 7 1/2 million returning veterans. And he set America on the course for doing the right thing that it had forgotten in between the two great wars. But things did not continue that way. When my father went to Vietnam, the tide had turned again. We forgot why we send Americans overseas and the wisdom of taking care of those who put this nation’s freedom on their backs. There were no welcome home parades. And my father, a senior officer in America’s most decorated combat division was not even allowed to wear his uniform off of Fort Bragg. There was such neglect that our friends at the Vietnam Veterans of America created the most lasting slogan, never again, will one generation of veterans abandon another. That must be our charge today, and always, we must vow never to let those dark days return. And to always be a welcoming family for those was Lincoln said, “Borne the battle.” I will close today with the thoughts of the greatest of airborne warriors. Matthew Bunker Ridgeway, he led the all American division to victory in North Africa and Sicily in General Eisenhower tasked him with leading the airborne assault on Hitler’s fortress Europe, and he planned the operations of the Screaming Eagles, the all Americans and the Red Devils of the British first Airborne Division. General Ridgeway could not sleep he was so restless that he fell out of his cot and he reached for the Old Testament into the book of Joshua. And he pulled down the description, the battle of Jericho and God’s promise to that great general. “I shall not fail thee nor forsake thee.” In 1986, General Ridgeway was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Ronald Reagan. And Ronald Reagan said, “Heroes come when they are needed. “Great men step forward when courage seems in short supply.” This day is about heroes. But it is about those 41 million American men and women who have stepped forward when courage seems in short supply. From the moment the first shots were fired on Lexington green. It is our duty, never to fail nor forsake them and it is now my high honor. (audience applauding) It is now my high honor and distinct pleasure to introduce to you, the father of a Marine Corps aviator, a man who has spent his career making sure that those who have answered the call to the colors are treated with the respect and reverence they deserve. It is my great honor to introduce the Vice President of the United States, the Honorable Mike Pence.

Thank you all. It is the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month 100 years ago on this day, America first celebrated Armistice Day, marking the anniversary of the day in 1918 when the guns of World War I fell silent. You know there is a day in May when we remember those who served and did not come home. But today, all across America, in gatherings large and small, in cities and towns, we pause to remember all those who served in uniform and did come home. It is Veterans Day in America. Vice President Quayle, Secretary Esper Secretary Wilkie, Secretary Devos, and Scalia, to congressman Takano, to commander Kowalski, to director Durham-Aguilera to all the distinguished guests and fellow Americans who are gathered here. It’s an honor to be with you all, but most especially, it is a high honor for me to stand before you in this special place among men and women who wear the uniform of the United States of America today, and our veterans who served our nation in uniform in ages past. (audience applauding) It’s my great honor to welcome you here to Arlington National Cemetery for the 2019 National Veterans Day observance, and I’m grateful that you all would make time as millions of Americans will do all across this nation to honor all those who serve. The Bible tells us if you owe debts pay debts, if honor than honor, if respect, then respect. And today, here at Arlington and all across this nation, Americans gather to pay a debt of gratitude to the generations who’ve answered the call to serve in the armed forces of the United States. It’s also my great honor to be here on behalf of a great champion of our armed forces, and of every veteran across this nation. So allow me to begin by bringing greetings and gratitude from the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump. (audience applauding) This morning our president made history, becoming the first president ever to kick off the annual Veterans Day parade in New York City. But though he is in New York, I know his heart is here, with all of you and with every Veterans Day service across the country, as the President said just moments ago, in his words, “Today, we come together “as one nation to salute the veterans “of the United States Armed Forces, “the greatest warriors ever to walk “on the face of the earth.” (audience applauding) As the President said, “You risked everything for us. “And now it’s our duty to serve you and serving “and protecting our veterans and keeping our promises “to our veterans we will do every day of our lives.” (audience applauding) So to all the veterans gathered here, as well as all of those looking on, from the heart of a grateful nation. Thank you for your service. We’re proud of you. (audience applauding) Every single one of you. And just as you fought for us, I promise you, this President, this Vice President and our administration, will always fight for you. (audience applauding) As President Trump has said, “A spirit of strength lives within the heart “of every American warrior. “And that spirit has helped our fighters “defeat tyrants, conquer fascism, vanquish communism “and facedown terrorism.” And so he rightly said, our first president said in his farewell orders to the Continental Army these words, “the unparalleled perseverance of the armies “of the United States, “through almost every possible suffering “and discouragement for the space of eight long years “was little short of a standing miracle.” So said George Washington, and so it can be said of every veteran throughout the long and storied history of this nation. (audience applauding) You’re a standing miracle, from Bunker Hill to Belleau Wood from San Juan Hill to Saipan, from the coral reef to Kandahar. Nearly 50 million men and women have donned the uniform of the United States. And nearly 20 million of you still walk among us today. And as we speak, a new generation of American heroes and veterans is being forged around the nation and around the world. As I look out today, it’s a truly humbling sight. I see men and women who served in World War II in the Korean War, in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. I see many more who stood watch over our country in times of peace. So if you are able, if you’ve worn the uniform of the United States of America, would you please stand and give us one more opportunity to show the gratitude of this nation for your service? (audience applauding) Thank you for your service. It truly is humbling to be with all of you. Our veterans really don’t consider themselves heroes to speak to them, most of them reject the very thought of it. Most of them say as a Iraq War veteran Army specialist Christopher Gamblin said not long ago, and I quote he said he was quote, “Just some guy that did his job.” My dad, a combat veteran from the Korean War. used to say with equal humility, “The heroes were the guys that didn’t make it home.” But on this day it’s our day to set the record straight. Every veteran of the Armed Forces of the United States is a hero to the American people. (audience applauding) And on this day, it’s our duty to tell your story. The story of what you did for us, what you did for our country, and all that you’ve done to ensure the survival and the success of liberty. Our veterans have distinguished themselves in combat. Like a man who joined me on this occasion two years ago 38 years ago this March he was serving his country in Vietnam. Back then, he was a first lieutenant in the United States Army first battalion 92nd artillery. One morning he woke to a massive North Vietnamese attack on a hilltop outpost. He and his brothers in arms were heavily outnumbered it took just minutes for the enemy to break through their defenses but this first lieutenant rallied, he rallied his brothers to stand the ground. He ordered air and artillery strikes from what would later be described as a dangerously exposed position for four straight hours. As the situation worsened he personally directed the withdrawal, and provided cover fire to ensure his brothers in arms safety, and to inflict maximum damage on the enemy. He actually called in an artillery strike on his own position. Wounded and unable to escape himself, he managed to evade detection for eight long days, until he was rescued by American forces that retook the outpost. For his conspicuous gallantry at the risk of his own life, above and below on the call of duty, he received of course the Medal of Honor. Would you join me in thanking a true American hero Medal of Honor recipient First Lieutenant Brian Thacker? Come here.

Thank you sir.

So we remember those who served in combat, but on this Veterans Day, we also do well to remember that our veterans contributions to our country continue to after you come home, they continue to serve our country in civilian life. You lead in business, in education, in law enforcement and public service at every level. And wherever you go, you do what you always did when you were serving in uniform. Our veterans show the same sense of duty and courage that defined your years in the armed forces. For a veteran of the United States Armed Forces service doesn’t end when they hang up the uniform, service is a lifelong calling. (audience applauding) Like a Marine Sergeant who joins us here today. During his time in uniform, he was an 81 millimeter mortarman 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines. But after he came home went to college, played football, played in the Orange Bowl, got a master’s degree and then joined the VA. And for the last 10 years he has worked tirelessly to fulfill the words of our nation’s 16th president “To care for them that shall have borne the battle.” So would you join me in thanking Sergeant Matt Webb for a life time of service to America? (audience applauding) Serving our veterans and meeting their needs. And we thank you, Sergeant for continuing that service. And as I stand before you today, I can tell you from my heart I couldn’t be more proud to be vice president to a president who cares so deeply about the men and women of our armed forces and every veteran in America. (audience applauding) Since the first day of our administration, President Trump has taken decisive action to ensure that America keeps the solid promises that we’ve made each and every one of you and all of our nation’s heroes. This President and this administration know, veterans benefits are not entitlements. They are the on going compensation for services rendered in the uniform of the United States. (audience applauding) And under this President’s leadership, we’ve been working to keep those promises. We pass the most sweeping reforms of the VA in more than 50 years, and Veterans Choice is now available to every veteran in America. (audience applauding) And to end an era of heartbreaking abuse and neglect, President Trump also signed the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act to ensure that our veterans received the highest quality of care in the VA system. And under our administration, we fired more than 8,000 employees for negligent behavior, and the wait times for patients have dropped by 33%. In fact, the wait times are shorter at the VA than they are in the private sector medical system. (audience applauding) That’s how you do it for our heroes. And as our 40th President once said, “Veterans know better than anyone else the price of freedom “because you’ve suffered the scars of war.” And the truth is not all the wounds of war are visible. Often after they come home, our combat veterans struggle with the weight of having defended our freedom on the field of battle. That’s why at the President’s direction, we’ve increased funding for mental health services by almost $9 billion. And the VA is now providing mental health screenings to every patient who walks through the door. (audience applauding) And all of our heroes gathered here and all of those looking on let me say, let me say from the heart if you are a veteran who’s struggling with a return to civilian life, or if you have a family member or a friend or a neighbor who you know is similarly burdened. Just know that there is help available today. And just as you were there for us, we will be there for you to see you through this time. (audience applauding) So we’ve been providing for the practical needs of those who served but also from the first day of this administration, this president has taken steps to ensure that our returning veterans can live the American dream that they fought so nobly to defend. In fact, President Trump signed legislation to expand the post 9/11 GI bill so that veterans can get up to $24,000 to attend the college of their choice at any point in their lives. (audience applauding) And three months ago President Trump directed the Department of Education to eliminate every last penny of student debt owed by a permanently disabled veteran. (audience applauding) With the stroke of a pen, the president wiped out $750 million owed by more than 25,000 heroes. And thanks to the President’s leadership, not only are we making education more available more affordable for our veterans, but our returning veterans are also coming back to an American economy that is booming, and veteran’s unemployment is at a 19 year low. (audience applauding) On this Veterans Day, we honor those who serve. Like all of you gathered here, we honor you with tributes and promises kept. But as our veterans understand better than most, we also honor your service by ensuring that the men and women in our armed forces today have the resources and the support that they need to accomplish their mission and defend this nation. And this we have done. (audience applauding) As they proved just two weeks ago in a raid that took out the world’s number one terrorist leader, the Armed Forces of the United States are the greatest force for good the world has ever known. (audience applauding) And I’m proud to report to all the veterans gathered here and those looking on that from the first day of this administration, President Trump has taken action to make the strongest military in the history of the world stronger still. This President has actually signed the largest investment in our national defense since the days of Ronald Reagan, including the largest pay raise for our armed forces in more than 10 years. (audience applauding) And I’ll make a promise to all the veterans gathered here. Under this President’s leadership, our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guard will always have the resources and the support that they need so help us God. (audience applauding) So it’s Veterans Day in America. The day we honor all of you who stepped forward and answered the call to defend this nation at home and abroad. You came from the rest of us. But we know you are the best of us. And on this day and every day, we honor your courage, your patriotism. And what you’ve done for us. You put on the armor. You stood in the gap. You defended our freedom. you counted our lives more important than your own. You stood for a cause greater than yourselves. Nine years ago this month, a 21 year old marine was serving our country in Afghanistan. History records he was on top of a house with his fellow Marine looking out at a village around them when suddenly an insurgent threw a grenade on the roof and without a moment’s hesitation he threw himself on the grenade and absorbed the impact of the blast. He suffered terrible injuries. Every part of his body that wasn’t protected was injured. Face, neck, thigh, foot, lung. But somehow he survived. While he was being treated, he went into cardiac arrest three times he’s undergone more than 70 procedures during 40 separate surgeries. But people who know him know that that has slowed him down. Today he’s a published author, a popular speaker, a marathon runner, and his faith in God, and his patriotism has been an inspiration to millions. And I promise you and him, that the American people will never forget or fail to honor the service of the youngest living recipient of the Medal of Honor Corporal Kyle Carpenter. (audience applauding) What a great American. I mentioned Kyle because of his heroism because of what he said not long ago. He wrote a memoir of his life and told a story of a day that he got into an Uber on his way to the airport. And he started chatting with the driver. He said they talked about their lives. He shared what he’d been through serving our country. And as the conversation wound down as it does for so many of you veterans, the driver turned and looked at him and said those words that he often hears, “Thank you for your service.” But in that moment, as he wrote later, Corporal Carpenter gave a reply that surprised even him. He looked at the driver after he heard those words and said, “You’re worth it.” As he wrote later, we had wonder do himself, why did I say that? But then he realized in his words in that moment, I wanted him to know that his family, his freedom, his rights, just the simple fact that he was a human being meant that he was worth sacrificing for. And that’s what I’ve come to realize serving in the military means. (audience applauding) It was a small moment but with a big meaning. In a single sentence, Lance Corporal Carpenter captured the spirit of every veteran. I could see it in the faces sitting before me when I recited those words. In the gentle nods that so many of you just gave. When you put on the uniform of the United States. You said we’re worth it that our freedom is worth it, and America is worth it. And on this day on behalf of your President, and a grateful nation, thank you. Thank you for considering us worthy of your all in service of this country. (audience applauding) So it’s Veterans Day in America. To my fellow Americans who did not serve in uniform, I have a challenge for you today. A challenge every American who do not follow a calling into service before the day is out. Whether at home or at work on a street corner over a backyard fence, find a veteran. Whether they came home the last week or in the last century, extend your hand and say those words that they never asked to hear. But they deserve to hear every day. Find a veteran today and say thank you for your service. Because every single one of you deserve to hear it every day. (audience applauding) So thank you for the honor of addressing you in this special place. God bless our veterans and their families. God bless our fallen. God bless the men and women who serve in the armed forces of the United States today. And may God continue to bless the United States of America with heroes like all of you, thank you.

Ladies and gentlemen, please stand and join the United States Army Band Pershing’s Own, and Army chorus in singing “God bless America.”

♪ God bless America ♪ ♪ Land that I love ♪ ♪ Stand beside her and guide her ♪ ♪ Through the night ♪ ♪ With the light from above ♪ ♪ From the mountains to the prairies ♪ ♪ To the oceans white with foam ♪ ♪ God bless America, my home sweet home ♪ ♪ God bless America, ♪ ♪ My home sweet home ♪ (audience applauding) Ladies and gentlemen, please remain standing as we retire the colors. Please place your hand over your heart or render a hand salute. Retire the colors.

“You’re a Grand Old Flag”

This concludes the 2019 National Veterans Day observance, please be seated for the departure of the Vice President of the United States and the official party. Thank you for joining us today as we celebrate and honor all who served.

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