Office of the Governor Rick Perry

Gov. Perry Honors Veterans at Central Texas Veterans Celebration

*Note - Gov. Perry frequently departs from prepared remarks.
Sunday, November 11, 2012  •  Austin, Texas  •  Speech

God bless you all, and I am honored to be here today on such a noble occasion.

It's also wonderful anytime you get a chance to hear the Gatlins perform.

To my fellow veterans here who have sacrificed so much to keep America safe, and made us all proud, I'd like to say thank you on behalf of more than 25 million Texans.

The origins of Veterans Day date back to the First World War, back then it was "The Great War" or, more optimistically, "The War to End All Wars."

In the 11th hour, of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the combatants signed an armistice ending hostilities, an occasion we continue to mark to this day.

Of course, not only was World War I not a "War to End All Wars", it wasn't even all that long before we went through it all again.

That war was fought by my father's generation, the Greatest Generation, who turned back the forces of evil in Europe, and conquered unchecked aggression in the South Pacific.

My father, in fact, was a World War II tailgunner who flew 35 missions over war-torn Europe, and then returned home after the war, settled down on a tiny patch of ground in West Texas and quietly went about his business, raising crops and raising a family.

His story was echoed millions of times across this great nation of ours, humble heroes who did their duty and then went back to their lives.

It's a story we've seen play out time and time again, as Americans have consistently sent their best, and their bravest, to confront the forces of darkness throughout the world.

Time and time again, American military members, Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, have proven up to the challenges posed by these forces.

They are the reason America has become the world's shining beacon of freedom and prosperity.

And they are the reason America has stood the test of time, as the great experiment of the late 1700s has endured more than 236 years.

It hasn't always been easy.

After the world wars came what they called a "Cold War", but it didn't feel much different from the regular kind of war to Americans fighting on the frozen mountains of Korea, and eventually in the jungles of Vietnam.

For our Vietnam veterans, in particular, their service overseas was further strained by discord back home.

They fought and bled for our country, and our ideals, just the same as all of the heroes before them, but faced scorn and even ridicule from some who disagreed with the war back home.

Thankfully, Americans have come to realize the error of those ways, and today appropriately celebrate the members of our military for what they do on our behalf.

Today, young Americans are following in the footsteps of warriors of all eras, taking the fight to terrorists around the globe, and keeping our homeland safe.

Our fighting men and women have always been motivated by something far more powerful than a paycheck.

It's a higher calling, rooted in the fundamental values of our nation that flows from the undeniable importance of freedom.

I believe there is no higher form of public service, than wearing the uniform of one's country.

Someone who will face incoming fire to set people free, is on a different level, a level all their own.

They are deserving of our strongest support, both as they fight on the battlefield, and when they return home.

In just a couple months, another legislative session will be upon us, and once again, we have to do everything we can to ably and effectively care for our wounded warriors, as well as those who sacrifice body and soul in defense of their fellow Americans.

In Texas, we will never forget those who gave every last measure of devotion on the battlefield.

In Texas, we will always remember the courage and dedication of our men and women in uniform, and do everything we can to help them heal, and return capably to the workforce.

Our freedom is not a gift from academics, poets or politicians, it is the gift of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.

They're the ones who drop behind enemy lines, who take to the air and set sail on the seas, without knowing which mission might be their last.

The courage they've displayed and the blood they've shed have purchased the free air we breathe, have protected the rights we cherish, and granted us the liberty that fuels us to do better.

So, again, to all our veterans assembled here today, and at events all across this great state of ours, I say thank you.

Whether you fought in World War II or just returned from the Middle East, Texas is grateful for your distinguished service.

As we gather here today, I am reminded of a quote from the man I consider America's greatest president, Ronald Reagan.

He said,

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same."

Once more, on behalf of Texans everywhere, I say ‘thank you' for that precious gift of freedom, for this generation and for all those that follow.

May God bless you, and, through you, may He continue to bless the great State of Texas.


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