Veterans Day and Three Heroes

On this day in 1919, President Woodrow Wilson said, “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,” in his remarks about Armistice Day.  In 1954, the holiday was changed to Veterans Day, to honor all veterans.  With this solemn pride I do thank and salute all veterans of our armed services.

My father was a veteran of The Korean War, having served in the Air Force.  He spoke of his experiences, shared photos and slide shows and tole me how the highest casualties came on the day before the end of the war.  His contriubtion to America’s defense went well beyond these years.  Dad, I thank you and I miss you.

Jonathan Long served in the Vietnam War.  He is another hero, living here in Nashville and singing of love of America and Freedom, what life here represents, the greatness in people, their generosity, their decency.  Jonathan, though, is a brilliant man who uses his First Amendment rights better than just about anyone I’ve known.  Thank you, Jonathan, for giving so much to protect these rights for all of us.

My good, late friend Don Wayne also served in the Korean War in the Army.  Don was one of the greatest Americans I’ve ever met.  He walked quietly and carried the biggest of hearts and songs, a humility, a kindness I will not forget.  Don, I am proud to be able to honor you this evening at the tribute concert your family has planned .  You are deeply missed.

To these three heroes and to all veterans, I do hold this solemn pride and thanks for you, and I always will.