Thank you Commander for that warm introduction.
Good morning distinguished guests, friends and families and my fellow veterans.
Today we celebrate the 228th birthday of the United States. Happy birthday, America!
A number of years ago, there was a movie, 'Field of Dreams'. In that movie the recurring phrase was, "If you build it they will come". 228 years ago our forefathers built a Nation concieved in Liberty with the wild eyed notion that "governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed". They built it and they came. They came from all corners of the planet. And still they come, they come to America. That shining light in the darkness. They come for the promise of a better life and to be free. Emma Lazarus' poem at the base of the Statue of Liberty concludes with the following lines:
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Indeed it is the Golden Door. But our history has been one frought with challenges. It took some 12 years from the end of the War of Revolution until our Constitution was completed and adopted.
In 1812, we went to war once again with Great Britain, over the impressment of US sailors by the British and other long simmering issues. Our Capital was burned, Fort McHenry besieged and 'The Star Spangled Banner" born. And the Republic endured.
In 1861, we fought a civil war. The Nation was torn apart. Brother against brother, family against family. 3 million fought and 6 hundred thousand died. And yet the Republic endured.
In 1941, we were attacked by the facist power of Japan. Germany and Italy, their facist allies declared war on us. We were fighting for our very existence. Once again, the Republic endured.
On September 11, 2001 once again we were attacked. Now we fight those who wish us dead, simply because we are Americans. The Republic will once again endure.
It has been said that freedom is never free and I will say that freedom cannot be had on the cheap. It has taken the blood of our warriors and even today, our young warriors fight in far off lands to keep us free and to keep us safe. We will be bloodied, but the indomitable spirit of the American people will not be bent or broken and we will see our way to victory.
To those that have lost loved ones who have died defending freedom, I mourn your loss. But know that their sacrafice was not in vain. Because of them, our Republic will endure.
In the words of the late President, Ronald Reagan, "America's best days are ahead of her".
America is truly the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.
May Providence bless our Republic.
God bless America!
MS SCPO USN(Ret.)