Gen. Dempsey's Remarks on Veterans Day
As Delivered by General Martin E. Dempsey , The 8th Army War Memorial at Yongsan Garrison, Republic of Korea Sunday, November 11, 2012
Well thanks very much, and I hope I didn’t—I hope I didn’t bring this weather with me, but it is a distinct honor to be here. I hope the symbolism is apparent for all of us especially for those of you who have serve on the peninsula. I also want to make mention of the fact that—I’m a—I’m a member of the VFW [Veterans of Foreign Wars], very proud to be a VFW member. And in fact, Deanie will tell you that one of the things I like to do when we drive through towns and cities in America is pop into VFWs and see who’s in there and we have a great time doing that.
But I do want to echo what J.D. [General John Thurman, commander of U.S. Forces Korea] said about the young man standing there in this rain storm with not a bit of quit, not any evidence of discomfort whatsoever. They are your legacy and we’re very proud of them. [Applause].
So, Ambassador Kim, General Thurman, distinguished guests, it really is—it’s a great honor to be here at Yongsan Garrison to celebrate this Veterans Day. I do appreciate the warm welcome, it’s about the only thing warm at this point.
I’ve had no greater privilege than to be named to serve as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the finest military that the world has ever known. They’re the most resilient, the most courageous force that I’ve seen in my four decades of service.
And they continue to look to the veterans of our past—their predecessors. For we know that we stand on very, very broad shoulders.
So today, on Veterans Day, there’s no place I’d rather be than right here with you, particularly with the veterans here representing veterans all over our great land and in the Republic of Korea. Some young and some not quite so young. Although the Marines would argue I bet, that they’re every bit as spry as they were when they served. And by the way, happy birthday to the United States Marines Corps, which celebrated their birthday yesterday.
It really is great to see the veterans of the Korean War here. We’re honored by your presence.
It’s good to see Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts here as J.D. said, and family members in the audience who have come out and braved this weather to help us celebrate Veterans Day. We’re grateful that you’re here and for the many ways you sustain us every day.
On Veterans Day, we honor every man and woman who’s ever worn the uniform of our nation—those who’ve selflessly secured America’s promise throughout our history.
That same history teaches us that security doesn’t just happen. It demands effort, sacrifice, courage, and commitment.
It requires generations of men and women, willing to go to distant lands to, as the Korean War Memorial in Washington says, defend countries “they never knew and a people who they’ve never met.”
Today, we salute the service of all veterans. And, we keep in our thoughts and prayers the fallen, the missing, and those who right now are serving in harm’s way.
We also remember that honoring those who’ve served isn’t just about what we say here today. It’s about how we honor our veterans every day of the year. It’s remaining committed to supporting them and their families in every way that we possibly can. It’s about serving them as well as they’ve served – and continue to serve – our nation.
That’s the sacred trust between America and all who defend its ideals.
It’s a trust that’s been forged by Soldiers and Airmen who liberated Europe, and Sailors who liberated the Pacific.
It’s a trust embodied by Marines who etched a legacy at Iwo Jima, and Coast Guardsmen who stood watch over our shores.
It’s a trust extolled by the Eighth Army – honored by this very memorial – who drove enemy forces back above the 38th parallel.
The man who led them, General Matthew Ridgway, once said, “Never have [we] had a greater challenge – or a finer opportunity – to show ourselves and our people at their best … to do honor to the profession of arms, and to those brave men who bred us.”
I’d submit that’s the great message for any Veterans Day. And on this Veterans Day, I can assure you that that spirit resides in the thousands of men and women who carry the torch today. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s my great honor to be here with you today. Thank you.