20 years ago, I left my small hometown, boarding a plane for the very first time in my life. Like many of you, I remember arriving to bootcamp. I would be sitting on my rack after a long day in our ship — shaved head, wearing those ugly navy dungarees, waiting for the mail petty officer to call out my name. The highlight of the day was receiving letters from home in the mail. I would get letters from family and friends from my small town.
These letters expressed support for me... letters making sure that I knew people back home cared — not only about me, but they cared about what I was doing, and they were proud that I was serving my country, how I was one of their native sons. It was these letters and those people whom I thought about through tough times at bootcamp; these letters and those people who I thought about through tough times in Hell week and SEAL training; these letters and those people I thought about through tough times overseas. I think about them today.
That is one of the reasons I am so proud to call myself a Virginian, surrounded by the kind of people in my letters all those years ago. The type of people who wrote the letters, the type of people who received the letters. These are the types of people who call Virginia home. I feel that the same profound sense of duty that I felt to those family and friends years ago who counted on me.
When something happens in the world, and mother freedom needs to be defended, it is our men and women who go forward to the sound of the fight. It is our families who pick up the slack and shoulder the nation’s burden of sacrifice and service; it is our neighbors who pitch in to help with the kids or the yard work or coach sports teams.
And you veterans, you have put in your time, your treasure, and some of you…your blood. Our elected government of the people, God willing, shall never forget what you have done for both the history and the future of these United States. For if they ever do forget, we will cease to be the overwhelming force for good on this globe. And the American patriot sheep dogs would be replaced by authoritarism, dictatorship, and the loss of the free man.
As veterans, you may forever and eternally take your place amongst those honorable patriots who have stepped forward, whether voluntarily or drafted, with youth and rigor and bravery for your nation, for your family, and for the soldier on your left and right. On this day, we bestow honor upon you, because you once took the watch for us, for this nation, and we thank you. May God lift you up and may he always bless these United States.
Happy Veterans Day!
Your Humble Servant and Proud Veteran,