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TRANSCRIPT: Remarks by General Ward at Veterans Day Ceremony
The following are comments from participants at a Veterans Day ceremony November 11, 2009 at Patch Barracks&#39; Washington Field: <br /> <br />LYNDA WADE: Good morning. I would like to first I would first like to start our ceremony by thanking
The following are comments from participants at a Veterans Day ceremony November 11, 2009 at Patch Barracks' Washington Field:

LYNDA WADE: Good morning. I would like to first I would first like to start our ceremony by thanking Gen. Ward for accepting our invitation to be our guest speaker, for accepting our invitation to be our guest speaker. And, Mrs. Ward, it's always a pleasure to see you.

Today's ceremony is about the veterans and I'm glad to see so many of you here honoring and paying tribute on today's occasion. Thank you for attending: Lt. Gen. Gardner, Maj. Gen. and Mrs. Morgan, Col. And Mrs. Dolinger and Command Sgt. Major Bryant, welcome to Stuttgart. We are honored that you could join us. Ladies and gentlemen, family members and friends, on behalf of the commander and members of American Legion Post 6, thank you all for taking the time to come out to this ceremony today.

At this time, please stand for the posting of the colors by the JROTC under the guidance of 1st Sgt. Wayne and remain standing for the playing of the national anthem and the invocation by Chaplain Dolinger.

COL. RANDALL DOLINGER: Please join me in prayer. Our father and dear God, we thank you for all those who have gone before us. Lord, there are many veterans here gathered today and, yet, we still look back at all of those who have gone before us. And, Lord, when we think we have it hard, we remember those who were at war for many years before they ever came home.

When we think we have it hard, we think of those who were prisoners of war for many years before they ever came home. And, Lord, when we think we have it hard, we remember those who never came home. And, Lord, we are thankful for all of those who have set an example of resilience and durance of patience, of sacrifice and love, who have gone before us.

And, Lord, may all of us never forget them. And may we never forget yours, who sacrificed your love for us, your sacrifice for us, your patience. And may we learn from the past to deal with the present and, Lord, to excel we ask in our savior's name: Amen.

MS. WADE: You may be seated.

Our guest speaker today became the first commander of U.S. Africa Command in Stuttgart, Germany, on 1 October 2007. He was commissioned into the infantry in June 1971 and his military education includes the infantry basic course and advanced courses, the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and the U.S. Army War College. He holds a master of arts degree in Political Science from Pennsylvania State University and a bachelor of arts degree in political science from Morgan State University.

His military service has included overseas tours in Korea, Egypt, Somalia, Bosnia .
MS. WADE: Israel. Ladies and gentlemen, American Legion Stuttgart Post 6 presents to you Gen. Kip Ward. (Applause.)

GEN. WARD: We will be okay; I got a big voice. If that doesn't work, we'll just keep going here. Well, first, let me say to all of the veterans, happy Veterans Day. And to all of you who are here who support, honor and show your appreciation for the services of all veterans, let me thank you for that display of such important support and genuine just concern for those who have fought our nation's wars to help secure the peace.

Let me also welcome to the community Lt. Gen. Gardner and Maj. Gen. and Mrs.
Morgan, who are here for their first public gathering. But let me just say so warmly to you a hearty, hearty welcome. And it's great to have you here.

Ms. Lynda Wade, I want to apologize for interrupting your little cycle there, ma'am, but I know that you had it all laid out and if you had continued to go on and on and on, it would have been something that my mom would have said, who is she talking about? (Laughter.) So let me thank you for that.

I didn't know what the weather was going to be today so I had two versions of this: a short version and a long version. And Joyce said, well, it's not raining, but use the short version anyways. (Laughter.) So I'll use the short version anyways.

Before I get started, however, I would like to just remind all of us, call our attention to terrible tragedies that go on. As was pointed out, our veterans have fought and won our nation's wars for the entire duration of this nation's existence. And it's no more aptly brought to home when tragedies such as what happened at Fort Hood, Texas, last week occurred.

So as those service members, those soldiers, their families and friends continue to mourn as we saw in the memorial service yesterday as well as Fort Lewis, Washington, where another memorial service was conducted for an entire squad that was lost fighting for our nation. Let us pause a minute, if you would, in silence, in remembrance of those in particular as we recognize all veterans.

Thanks very much. November 11th, known to Americans as Veterans Day, is a day to celebrate the achievements and heroism of our American veterans. It is also significant on a global scale because on this day in 1918 a ceasefire agreement was signed marking the end of the "war to end all wars," World War I.

Now, as with all Veterans Days since the remembrance's inception as Armistice Day in 1919, we pause today to remember the service and the sacrifice of all of those who have served our nation in uniform. The timing of this remembrance is quite deliberate in terms of historical fact. But somehow it always seems quite fitting to me that this date comes deep into autumn when the colors are muted and the days seem to invite contemplation. So it is wholly fitting on this Veterans Day to pause to remember those who have suffered wounds both physical and mental in the defense of the United States of America and its allies.

Here in Germany we see firsthand what their sacrifice has enabled. We live today amongst Europeans who enjoy long-standing peace and stability. Old borders and historical rivalries have evaporated as Europeans seek ever-closer economic and political cooperation.

The conditions of today were forged through the sacrifice of our veterans in the same way our current generations of veterans are striving to lay the foundations for lasting, positive change in faraway lands that draw ever-nearer in our increasingly interconnected world.

Their examples of service and commitment inspire today's sailors, soldiers, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and civilians who are now serving. Today we exemplify this at U.S. Africa Command, where we strive to promote stability and security alongside our African partners.

We provide programs designed to build lasting institutions for peace and prosperity. Our purpose for doing this is the prevention of conflict so that our friends and allies on the continent of Africa and its island nations can break the cycle of violence and instability that inhibits the development and threatens the lives of innocent people.

We hope to foster for Africans the same piece of stability that so many of us helped to secure here on the continent of Europe. This is hard work, requiring dedication, valor, selfless service such that as demonstrated by our veterans who are here today and others throughout our history.

That is why this is such a special occasion, one that those of us currently in uniform celebrate with pride and solemnity. We serve to protect peace by continuing in the footsteps of the Americans who have so proudly served and leave their great legacy for us all. We emulate them as they have represented the very best in America. And, in turn, we work side-by-side with our partners as we serve to promote stability and security to protect our people and to dissuade the terror and ultimately defeat the enemies of peace.

As we move ahead, as we continue to serve, we give thanks, we honor. With the wreath that we lay here today, let us remember and give our honor to the sacrifice of our veterans, for the deeds that they have performed and the good that has come from it for us. For our partners and for the world they have bore the burden; they have paid the price. It is to these men and women that the freedom that we honor and enjoy today is possible. We give thanks to them for that selfless service.

As was pointed out, the sacrifices are many. The burden has been heavy. The price has been high. Their work is honored. We salute you, veterans. We thank you for your service.

So as we continue to pay homage, as we continue to show our appreciation, as we continue to show our thanks for the service of those who have gone on before, for those who continue to serve today, let us always be reminded that this price is not free, that these activities are not to be taken lightly and that we are all so much better off for that service and for that leadership.

Thanks again for being here. Thank you for your honoring our veterans and to all veterans, happy Veterans Day. I salute you. God bless you. (Applause.)

MS. WADE: Thank you, Gen. Ward, for those comments. Gen. and Mrs. Ward, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, veterans, I would like to thank you again for coming out today to honor the men and women who serve in the military forces which guard our great nation. They are ordinary people accomplishing extraordinary things. Simply put, that's who veterans are. Young and old, rich and poor, black and white and all colors in between, in nearly every category, they are men and women who served or still serve America. Some have endured great hardships, separation from family and drastically altered lifestyles. Some have experienced the horrors of wars. All sacrifice something so that we can enjoy the freedoms we have today.

It is America, not is America's military, that al-Qaida and other terrorists have declared war on, but it is our armed forces that carry the great burden and responsibility of defending us. Fortunately, our military is made up of ordinary people accomplishing those extraordinary things. Fewer than 10 percent of Americans can claim the title military veteran, and what a list of accomplishments can those 10-percent claim? From defeating communism, fascism and imperialism to keeping the peace during the Cold War and battling terrorism today, America owes a debt to her veterans that can never be repaid.

When remembering the millions of people who have been liberated by American forces around the globe from history's most evil oppressors, Winston Churchill's words about the Battle of Britain come to mind: "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few." Today is important because we choose to honor the living veterans from the "greatest generation" to the latest generation, but we must honor them with deeds, not just with words. We must heed the words of our first commander-in-chief, Gen. George Washington, who said, "The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional as to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their country."

Born of their extraordinary accomplishments comes out extraordinary debt, and part of that debt is owed to the military families who have sacrificed so much for their country. We must honor all of these families, and not just with blue and gold star banners, but with compassionate hearts. From the members of American Legion Stuttgart Post 6, we salute you. (Applause.)

Ladies and gentlemen, we will have now have the placement of wreaths. Placing the first wreath will be the American Legion Stuttgart Post 6. We will now have the placement of a wreath by the Veterans of Foreign Wars post 10810. And we will now have the placement of a wreath by the Stuttgart Clan Motorcycle Enthusiasts. Ladies and gentlemen, I ask now that you please rise for the playing of "Taps" by Nicholas Pierson of Boy Scouts Venturing Crew and remain standing for the benediction by Chaplain Dolinger.

COL. DOLINGER: Please join me in prayer. Our Father and God, as we look at the leaves that are falling, we are reminded that things come in seasons, and though it is a blessing to see the young people come up with the veterans, those who have gone before and those who have yet to face what is ahead. And Lord, just as we found strength in looking in the past, Lord, we find strength for today by holding onto hope for the future.

And Lord, we pray that you do raise up young people who will follow in the footsteps of those who have gone on before. And Lord, may we hold onto the hope that there will be a day where those who have gone on before us, that there will be a reunion through the resurrection. And Lord, we pray that we will be able to hold onto hope for today that there will be a day where there will be no more tears, no more sorrow, no more sickness, and no more death. And so Lord, give us that hope, that we might be more resilient and excel today. We ask in our savior's name, Amen.

MS. WADE: Gen. and Mrs. Ward, veterans, distinguished guests, family members and friends, thanks again for coming out today to honor and pay tribute to our veterans. This concludes our ceremony. However, we ask that you remain standing until the colors are retired, and immediately following the retirement of the colors, you can join us for cake and coffee to the rear of the ceremony area. Thank you again. Thanks, everyone, for attending. (Applause.)