Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans' Day 2010 Address

The following is the text of my address during the Veterans' Day ceremony at the Danbury War Memorial:

"Good morning veterans, good morning Danbury. Thank you for joining us to honor Veterans Day.

I was here last week studying the names on the plaques before us – the inscription on one reads “In Honor of the Men and Women of Danbury who served in THE World War 1917-1919. In Memory of these men who made the supreme sacrifice for liberty.”

Note the words “THE World War.” Americans and the creators of this plaque never envisioned a second world war when they wrote these words. World War One was normally referred to simply as “The Great War.”

This plaque honors thirty five who were killed in action or died while fighting “The Great War.” Many names are familiar to us old-time Danburians but one jumped out at me last week – Raymond A. Walling.

Raymond A. Walling is immediately recognized by many of us standing here this morning but do we know who he was? The plaque reads Battery F. 56th Artillery Killed In Action August 31, 1918. We know him as the Raymond A. Walling Post 149 Veterans of Foreign Wars on Byron Street in Danbury. The next time I visit the VFW I’ll be looking for a biography on Raymond A. Walling.

The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1919 the infamous Treaty of Versailles was signed between the Allies and Germany.

The first Armistice Day was proclaimed by President Woodrow Wilson on November 11th, 1919 with the following words, “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.”

Armistice Day was renamed Veterans Day in 1954 and today we honor all veterans – those here with us today and those lost in battle.

There are two patron saints of the military – Saint Christopher and Saint Michael the Archangel. I’d like to share my patron saint’s prayer with you:

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do you, O Prince of Heavenly Host, by the Power of God, thrust into hell, Satan and all the other evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Today I thank our veterans for their service to our country. All of us thank our veterans – I think we just don’t thank them enough.

May God Bless our veterans and may God Bless America.

Thank you."