2022 Veteran’s Day Remarks
Riverside National Cemetery
Thank you, veterans, and thank you families of veterans. Thank you military service members whether active, reserve, or national guard. Thank you military families.
Thank you to this community and this nation that remembers your service and sacrifice on behalf of American democracy and the ideals of freedom and equality on this Veterans Day.
We occupy briefly this sacred and hallowed resting place to remember service and sacrifice—We remember those who died in battle or those who died from invisible wounds of war after returning home. We remember, too, those still living whose minds and bodies may be wracked with the ravages and trauma of war: horrific flashbacks and bitter dreams, bodies missing limbs, wheelchair bound or suffering the various effects of toxic exposures.
As Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, it was my privilege to write and lead the passage of the Blue Water Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 and see it signed into law by Republican President Trump. It was also the honor of a lifetime to write and lead the passage of the Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act this year and see it signed by Democratic President Biden this past August.
Honoring our pledge to care for those who have borne the battle is not about two colors-- Red or Blue, but about three colors-- Red, White, and Blue. Let keep before us at all times an awareness that Americans of all colors fought for the three colors, and all Americans bleed one color. This remains true for Americans of Faith and Americans who are non-believers, Americans who are straight and Americans who identify as L, G, B, or T. We must ensure women veterans feel just as proud of their service and sacrifice and male veterans do.
What unites us not just a love of Freedom, but the deeply held sentiment that no soldier should return from the fight abroad to encounter injustice at home.
We live in a time of rising threats and challenges abroad, whether we are talking about the continent of Europe or the Indo-Pacific. Never has our nation’s security rested on so few, two percent of our population. The 98 percent of nation must therefore be united in our resolve to stand behind the two percent who serve in uniform and remember that at home the enemy is not each other, the enemy at home is injustice, it is ignorance, it is inequality, it is indifference, it is unwarranted phobias toward one another.
On this day, let us redouble our efforts to care for and appreciate those who have served in uniform and remember and cherish the service of those who have perished. We honor all of them with a humble democratic spirit that we take pride not in a perfect democracy but a perfect-able democracy.
In closing, let me leave you with a thought from our nation’s youngest Congressman-elect from the state of Florida, twenty-five-year-old Max Alejandro Frost: it is a sort of prayer and a vision. “Let us build an America in which my neighbor’s success is my success and my success in my neighbor’s success and neither comes at the other’s expense.”
In two weeks, I will have a chance to share this prayer when I am serving thanksgiving dinner to our troops at a now undisclosed military base abroad.
God Bless you and God bless the United States of America.