Thursday, April 25, 2013

Recognizing our WWII Veterans


I want to share with you a truly inspiring and humbling experience I had during a recent trip to the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. I had received an invitation from a World War II veteran in my hometown to come to D.C. and meet him and a group of veterans who were visiting their Memorial for the first time, all thanks to Honor Flight New England. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Honor Flight Network, it’s a national organization that brings World War II veterans to see the World War II Memorial.

I have to tell you, this program is something very special. I had the privilege of shaking hands with nearly all of those brave men and women as they saw their memorial for the first time. For me, it was a chance to recognize these patriots while connecting to the heritage and legacy of the men and women we refer to as “The Greatest Generation.”

During the tour I was able speak with many of the veterans and their families. One of the veterans I met was a woman who had worked at the Personnel Processing Center in Philadelphia. In my conversation with her, and in my conversations with other veterans, the pride they took in their service was very evident.

These men and women considered it their duty to sign up and were volunteers. Additionally, of the more than four million Navy personnel who served during the war, nearly 50 percent of those Sailors were from the Navy Reserve. These men and women and the service they gave is part of our history. We have a connection with these veterans and I see those same traits in the members of our present Reserve Force.

The core values we hold sacred today - of honor, courage and commitment - are aligned with the values of our World War II veterans. It is important that we recognize their service and sacrifice. They are our last living link to the experience of that historic war, and unfortunately, we lose more and more of them every day.

If you have the chance to volunteer for an Honor Flight trip, please do so. I guarantee it will be a rewarding experience. And, when you meet a veteran of World War II – take the opportunity to speak with them, listen to them and thank them for their service and sacrifice.


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