At 0700 yesterday, visiting Senators McCain, Lieberman, Gillebrand, and Graham participated in the Embassy Veterans Day remembrance. Senator McCain gave a brief, but quite moving speech. It was the first time that I had heard that 2nd Lt Kelly, USMC, son of Lieutenant General Kelley, USMC, Commanding General of Marine Forces Reserve, had been killed in a roadside IED only two days before, serving with 3/5 in Helmand Province.
A hell of a way to reinforce the importance of both the birthday of the Marine Corps (10 November) and Veterans Day (11 November).
“It’s an honor to spend this Veteran’s Day in Afghanistan among what I believe to be the greatest generation of men and women serving in our military. Today we honor you. We are humbled by your example, and chastened in our pride that we, too, in our own way, have tried to give our country some good service. It may be true or it may not, but no matter how measurable others’ contributions to this blessed country, they are a poor imitation of yours. But they know the solemn and terrible sacrifice made by those who have not returned to the country you loved so well.
“We recently lost three brave young sons from Arizona, and Lt. General Kelly’s son who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of freedom.
“Our country doesn't depend on the heroism of every citizen. But all of us should be worthy of the sacrifices made on our behalf. We have to love our freedom, not just for the private opportunities it provides, but for the goodness it makes possible. We have to love it as much, even if not as heroically, as the brave Americans like you who defend us at the risk and often the cost of their lives. We must love it enough to argue about it, and to work together to serve its interests, in whatever way our abilities permit and our conscience requires, whether it calls us to arms or to altruism or to politics.
“If war has any glory, it is a hard pressed, bloody, and awful glory that no one who hasn’t experienced it can ever completely understand. It is the glory of knowing you withstood the savagery and cruelty and madness of war to do your duty to the country that sent you there, and you were not found wanting by the comrades who stood next to you.
“Today, Americans are fighting in faraway places, like many of you here in Afghanistan, a place that most Americans will never see. They suffer as you have suffered. They are brave as you have been brave. They, like you, will never be the same again. You know the world we live in is an uncertain one. It still holds dangers for us and for everyone for whom freedom is the habit of their heart. Man’s inhumanity to man is an evil that will never be entirely extinct. And no matter how long a peace endures, it is always temporary. Americans will always be asked again to bear burdens that only the brave can endure. That burden will be their duty, as it is yours now and likely will be again.
“History does not remember all of our brave veterans as individuals. We don’t even know where they all rest. But we must not forget what they have done. Their honor is eternal and will live in our country for so long as she remains worthy of their sacrifice. Our veterans were family and friends to some, heroes to all – who lived, fought and died for the safety and future of a great and good nation.
“God bless them. May God grant them perpetual peace. And may all of you, who are serving in their hallowed footsteps, return home safe one day, with honor.”