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Honoring Those Who Served

I am the daughter of a Navy Pilot who wore the cloth of our Nation for over 30

years. My father, grandfather, and great grandfather were all wartime military

officers who served the Republic and taught me what it meant to honor our

nations Veterans, and just how important it is that we celebrate their courage,

honor and commitment.

I grew up in Kingsville, Texas, where my pops commanded Naval Air Station

Kingsville. I loved standing on the porch of Quarters A with my little brother

listening to morning colors and seeing the flag flying on the pole in our yard and

off in the distance at my dad’s headquarters.

We celebrate Veterans Day on the anniversary of the end of World War One. The

war ended at the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month. At that moment,

the guns of Europe fell silent, and the war to end all wars ended. While the words

of the Treaty were meaningful to the thousands of dough boys who came home,

and to the families of those who didn’t, the sentiment didn’t last long.

From Bunker Hill to Bellow Woods, from Kason to Kandahar, from the Battle of

the Bulge to Bagdad, millions of Americans continue to answer our Nations call.

And sadly, since our nation’s founding, nearly one million men and women gave,

what Lincoln called, the last full measure of devotion. We must honor their

memory and the families they left behind. I often wonder how great-grandma felt

the day that telegram arrived. For thousands since, there is nothing like a knock

on the door that would change their life forever.

But today, we celebrate the men and women who stood up to swear an oath, and,

like our founding fathers nearly two and a half centuries ago, pledged their lives,

fortunes, and sacred honor to answer our nations call in time of peace and

during time of war. They gave up everything for our country, they gave up

everything for us. They missed Christmas, birthdays, holidays and even the

birth of their children. They served on ships at sea and posts in faraway lands.

They did it for little pay, little fanfare, and little recognition.

As Americans and Texans, it is our duty to ensure our Veterans receive the

benefits and health care they deserve. We must not accept a national policy that

places the healthcare, education, and now maybe even the financial welfare of

those who did not respect our laws, ahead the veterans who served our Nation -

when our nation called. There are thousands of Veterans living alone on the

streets of America. This is a national embarrassment – and it must not stand.

We must do better for those who gave better of themselves. We must give more

to those, who gave so much for us.

We must ensure the men and women who protect us each day have the tools

they need to fight and win our nation’s wars. A strong national security is not

just a bumper sticker. As Reagan said, the surest way to keep the peace is to

stay strong. Weakness, after all, is a temptation -- it tempts our enemies to assert

themselves -- but strength is a declaration that cannot be misunderstood.

Strength is a condition that declares actions have consequences. Strength is a

prudent warning to the enemy that aggression need not go unanswered. We

must never repeat the scenes of the past few months. Imagine a time when we

can watch our elected officials say how bad America is on one channel, while we

watch men cling to the outside of a moving jet to get to that same America on

another. To our Veterans today who served in Afghanistan, we will never forget

your sacrifice, and remember, your sacrifice was not in vain. Where leadership

failed, you succeeded at every turn.

As Americans and Texans, we cannot forget why the American Military is our

nation’s 9-11 force. They will answer the call in the wake of a hurricane, and they

will answer our nation’s call when freedom is attacked. While the American

Veteran and the military they serve cannot be the answer to every problem

across the globe, the American Veteran has liberated millions of people across

that globe since 1911, bringing peace and prosperity to millions who would have

otherwise lived in tyranny.

We owe it to our Veterans to ensure that America remains that shining city on a

hill. We owe it to our Veterans to ensure America remains exceptional. We owe

it to our Veterans to stand up and be proud of who we are, and not be

embarrassed for what we have. We are Texans, we are Americans. And as a

Nation, it is time we started acting like it.

As a 17-year-old, I am honored to be able to stand here and thank our nation’s

veterans. At 17, I am also worried that the values that are uniquely American in

character and written in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution are no

longer shared by those charged with leading those who serve. We need to

remind those who lead, they serve only with the consent of the governed – not

the other way around.

We endanger the peace and stability of the world when we refuse to seek the

truth and forget that peace is only maintained and won by those who willingly,

and with brave minds and hearts, pick up a rifle and stand a post. Peace will be

threatened when we forget that God gave us men and women with talents to use

in securing freedom for all and ensuring liberty and freedom shall not perish

from the earth.

Each new day carries with it the responsibility to remember those who served.

We are surrounded by them today and we owe them a debt we can never repay.

I ask each of you to renew your commitment to our Veterans who made a

commitment in recruiting stations from sea to shiny sea.

Our Veterans live by the motto they will never surrender or retreat.  As Colonel

William Barret Travis wrote in that immortal letter, if this call is neglected, I am

determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never

forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country. It is in that spirit we

can sleep well, knowing our Texas Veterans and all our Nation’s veterans here

today, had the watch.

We must remember a simple truth. All Veterans pay with their lives. Let me say

that again - all Veterans pay with their lives. Some pay all at once, and some pay

over a lifetime. But they all pay!

Thank you. God bless America and our Veterans, and as always, may God bless

the Republic of Texas.

Note: This Op Ed is taken from what will be my remarks on a Veterans Day event in

Fort Worth, TX.

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