I was honored and humbled when I was asked to say a few words at the local celebration in Green Hill, NC. I had the privilege and honor share the stage with the local organizers (I love my community, some of the best people in the world are right here!), an active duty marine (just had to shake his hand and tell him thank you), local pastor (I love to hear someone pray aloud, there is something about a sincere prayer that warms my heart), and NC Senator Debbie Clary (they didn't tell me she was going to be there, I was so surprised and a little intimidated to take the stage after her).
Here is the written part of my speech. I added some stuff when I got up there but the following is the basic structure of the speech.
Good Afternoon, and welcome. Thank you Debbie for asking me. I am both honored and humbled by the invitation to speak to you all here today.I am so glad to be back home, in a community where people are "just good people". I love it! I wish I could take the spirit of community we have in Shingle Hollow, Gilkey, Green Hill, and the Union Mills areas of Rutherford County, NC and bottle it. It is a feeling, spirit, since of belonging you just don't find everywhere. I hope everyone has someplace like this they can be part of. Whether it is an organization, or a physical location on a map, the people and the personalities are what make it all worthwhile. I'm a little bias because these are the areas I grew up in. (the rest of the county and state are great too, but I like my area of the world.)
President Ronald Reagan 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."
Isn't this what each person who dons a uniform in the service of our country does each day? They fight for, they protect, and they hand over freedom like a right of passage for each new generation?
To a veteran and/or active duty military personal the words: Freedom, duty, honor, patriotism, country, United States Constitution, The Star Spangled Banner, are not mere words, they are a call to action, one they answered without question. No one ever wants to be part of a War or Conflict, but they go willingly if called. (Yes, I know not all who served in our military went so willingly, but as it is today, right now, as I stand here before you, we are a country who's military is an all volunteer force. They go willingly!)
What is a veteran/active duty soldier? The best definition I have heard is "A veteran is someone who, at one point in his (or her) life wrote a blank check made payable to 'The United States of America' for an amount of up to and including their life." The Author to this quote is unknown, but the words speak volumes.
However, let's not forget those who support our country in other ways. Hard working, tax payers who exercise their right to vote and expect for that vote to be heard and to count. If you don't exercise that right don't complain. Do something get involved and become part of the process. What would have happened back on July 4th, 1776 if our forefathers did not have the courage, both physical and moral, to set into motion the most ground breaking event in American history and arguably that of the world - The Declaration of Independence.
It is those who have gone before that have given us what we have today. Take the time to remember the sacrifices of those who have poured their blood, sweat, tears, and when necessary their lives for the freedom and Independence we enjoy today.
President John F. Kennedy in his 1961 inaugural address, probably said it best, when he said, "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country" Think for just a moment, what have you done for this great land of ours? What can you do? Where can you get involved? Where can your voice be heard? Encourage each other in times of celebration, sorrow and yes, even in times of disagreement, know we are "one nation, under God" and each person is connected if only by the common bond of our humanity.
In closing, I want to take a moment to thank all the veterans who are here today, those who are away from home in the service of our country be it on US or foreign soil, thank you! Also many thanks to all you who support your military family members, friends and neighbors, and most of all to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, their life, in defense of the Freedoms so many take for granted today. Next time you walk in your church, synagogue, temple, or other place of worship, clean your guns, voice an opinion that differs from that of your elected officials, or work in the industry you choose, remember that you are free to do these things and more. I encourage you to take a moment and read the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution of the United States, and to strive to understand and exercise all those rights and freedoms.
Happy 4th of July, and God Bless and Keep America and all those who call her home!
I hope you enjoyed reading, more soon...:-)!