I’ve been giving this speech at events since 2009. Everyone has request it when I speak, and have not wanted me to alter it in any way.
I have a podcast of this speech on this site, but wanted to put the transcript up here instead of on my old site.
(Formatting is written how I speak so it won’t be proper)
First of all … I’d like to express how deeply honored I am to have been invited to share this moment with all of you.
To be in the presence of such a caliber of people is truly humbling.
For those of you here to honor this nation’s … no, this world’s … hero’s
Your respect, and admiration is duly noted and greatly appreciated.
For those of you here to honor those with whom you served …
Thank you, thank you for continuing to tell the stories of our fallen brothers and sisters,
and sharing with your countrymen the feats of greatness you personally witnessed under circumstances few can comprehend.
And for those of you who are honoring your loved ones today
You have all of our fondest affections, and sincerest gratitude.
For today is not just a day to honor our fallen brothers and sisters.
It is a day to honor their Spouse, children, parents, siblings and families.
I’ve often called the military the best of us all, but they couldn’t fulfill that role without you
Today we stand in awe of your strength, your pain, your sacrifice, and the pride that must fill you up inside.
We often say “all gave some … some gave all”, but take note
The fallen didn’t pay the ultimate sacrifice … their loved ones paid the ultimate sacrifice
They paid it when their loved one joined the service, went to training, got deployed
And they paid it again the day they learned the true price of freedom, and every day since.
So please, take a moment today to pay respect to the families of the fallen,
and know the strength that was drawn from them by those who went to war, and the strength we can draw from them today
No one dislikes the concept of war more than those tasked with waging it
The difference between the warrior and the pacifist is that the warrior understands one thing
For evil to succeed … all that is required is for good men to do nothing
It is this understanding that keeps us safe, free, and has secured the blessings of liberty
The American warrior is possibly the most relevant figure in history, and so we honor them today
While the pacifist gets no such honor, glory, or relevance
During this nation’s history we have lost roughly 1.37 million of our best in a theater of operation
Millions more died while wearing the uniform during peacetime
We honor them all equally
Sometimes it can be difficult trying to find ways to properly pay your respect to such valor
The fact of the matter is … for all of the difficulties in such efforts … we typically choose the easiest possible method
Adding days to the calendar, concocting medals awarded posthumously, making movies, and holding special events are all great ways to pay homage to their sacrifice
However, it is not enough
These are the easiest of ways to honor the fallen, and it makes us feel good … for a time
until that guilt creeps into the back of our head again that we aren’t doing enough, and we find another easy way to pay our respects
What they did for us was hard, demanding work
Do we not owe them the same?
I think we do, but how can we possibly pay proper respect in a way beyond what we are already doing?
Remember … remember why they fought … remember what they fought for … then make sure their sacrifice wasn’t in vain
We must work to protect that which they believed worth dying for
That is the most difficult way in which we can properly honor our fallen, but the most rewarding and satisfying
When their memory is being soiled, and their brothers and sisters in arms still among us come under attack we must rise up
We must not be neglectful in this obligation
They went to great lengths to defend and protect us from harm … we have a duty to do the same for them
In 2006 LTC Randolph C. White Jr. at Fort Benning, GA gave a speech to graduating infantrymen that rivaled Gen. Patton’s famous address to his 3rd army.
In this speech LTC White said
THESE MEN ARE SPECIAL FOR MANY REASONS BUT THE FACT THAT THEY STOOD UP AND SAID “SEND ME” AT TIME OF WAR SPEAKS VOLUMES AS TO THEIR CHARACTER.
BECOMING A MEMBER OF THE MILITARY IS ALWAYS A BIG DECISION, BUT TO DO SO AT TIME OF WAR SPEAKS WELL OF A YOUNG MAN WHO COULD HAVE EASILY OPTED FOR A SAFER EXISTENCE.
THEIR REASONS FOR COMING ARE VARIED AND OFTEN DEEPLY PERSONAL, BUT IT’S WHAT MAKES THEM TRULY THE BEST AND THE BRIGHTEST THAT WE HAVE IN THIS COUNTRY. I DON’T SAY THAT TO BE NICE…I SAY THAT BECAUSE I MEAN IT.
He would go on to say in the near closing of his speech
I FOR ONE WILL NEVER…EVER… APOLOGIZE FOR BEING AN AMERICAN AND DON’T YOU EVER FEEL THAT YOU HAVE TO.
WE’RE NOT PERFECT BUT I CAN THINK OF NO PLACE BETTER.
WE DIDN’T BECOME THE GREAT COUNTRY THAT WE ARE BY ACCIDENT….WE EARNED IT! —- AND WHILE WE WERE AT IT— WE KEPT AND CONTINUE TO KEEP A LARGE PORTION OF THE WORLD FREE.
AMERICAN BLOOD AND SACRIFICE IS THE INDISPUTABLE PART OF THE WORLD EQUATION.
MORE PEOPLE IN THIS WORLD ARE TRYING TO COME TO OUR SHORES THAN ANY OTHER COUNTRY.
WE REMAIN THE BEACON OF HOPE FOR MANY, AND GOD WILLING IT WILL ALWAYS BE SO.
WE’RE NUMBER 1…DON’T APOLOGIZE FOR IT – BE DAMN PROUD OF IT!
This is the legacy of those who kissed and hugged their families goodbye for the last time … then went off to far away lands
Many of us who came back only did so because of the actions of these great people
My grandfather is only here today because of a man named Fakundis
Who paid the ultimate sacrifice assaulting a machine gun position while coming to the aid of Marines in the Chosin Reservoir
His actions allowed my grandfather to neutralize the enemy position, and saved untold soldiers that day
Many of you here today have similar stories … share them … we need to know … we want to know
It is said that to get his forces prepared to face the forces of evil … God sends them to earth to serve in the United States Military
And when their training is complete … he calls them home … to once again stand guard and protect us from evil.
So today … we honor such greatness
For all of those we’ve lost in the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, Navy, Guard, Reserve, and all of the others who worked in the shadows
We look to the sky with full confidence they are still keeping watch over us
Today, and everyday, honor them … remember them … love them
I hope I’ve done right by them
And I hope I’ve done right by you today