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tv   Politics Public Policy Today  CSPAN  May 29, 2012 1:00am-5:59am EDT

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our guests are going upstairs to sign some books. thank you very much and have a great day. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2012] cracks in a few moments, memorial day ceremonies at arlington national cemetery. in a little more than two hours, commencement speeches ip representative michele bachmann and senator john kerry. awn "washington journal," we withlook at the campaign's michael steele and the dynamics
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of who runs for office and why. and our columnists the series continues with clarence page. washington journalists every day at 7:00 a.m. eastern. >> spend the weekend in wichita, kansas. saturday at noon eastern, a literary life with a book tv on c-span2. from businesses black and white and the founding of beechcraft in the barnstorm and the lady. -- rouse the rare book collection. and experience early life at the old museum. the early days of flight at the kansas aviation museum and two participants from the civil rights movement. local month, c-span's
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content vehicle travels across america. this weekend, wichita, kansas. >> memorial day observances in washington included a ceremony at the veterans memorial which remarks by president obama, leon panetta, joint chiefs of staff chairman -- chairman martin dempsey and the founder and president of the vietnam veterans memorial fund. this is an hour and a half.
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>> thank you, thank you, thank you. i appreciate the kind welcome. i welcome the goldstar family and friends. i would like to begin by especially welcoming our goldstar families. [applause] let me also thank the national park service and the vietnam veterans memorial, volunteers and staff. they work day in and day out and they do so much to care for the sacred memorial. thank you all so much. i want to extend my personal thanks to the secretary of the interior ken salazar for his strong support and leadership.
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please thank your staff at the national park service for their magnificent help for today's ceremony and their steadfast support for 30 years since this memorial has been built. thank you very much. we want to thank the lieutenant general and his staff with the united states of america vietnam memorial commemorative committee. the department of defense under the strong leadership of secretary of defense leon panetta has shown some really great leadership. they are making this day possible. this will be an amazing day that no one here ever forget. thank you for spending at
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memorial day with us. this ceremony will be unlike anything that has ever been hosted here before. this is indeed a special occasion for this memorial. i know that you will be moved and inspired. i want to be the first to invite everyone to come back for another wonderful event, veterans day as we commemorate the 30th anniversary of the vietnam veterans memorial. we will also gather across the street to break down for the education center at the wall. this is a place where heroes will be honored and the veterans of vietnam will be remembered and the veterans of iraq and afghanistan will be honored there. thank you very much to those of you who have served.
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i hope to see all of you in november. until then, please learn more about this education center. it is now my pleasure to introduce a patriot who we all know as an emmy and golden globe award winning actor. i know him, he was a dear friend. he was in the military during the vietnam war. he has been a strong a consistentnd supporter of ours. we have come to know you as a special friend of the veterans and friends of all of those wars. please welcome our master of ceremonies, mr. tom selleck. [applause]
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>> bear wtiith me a moment. >> thank you. there is so much sun out that you can't see the prompter. thank you, jan. thanks for the kind words. thank you for your vision, perseverance and leadership.
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you were the catalyst that brought americans together more than 30 years ago resulting in this magnificent memorial and all that this represents. we remember our vietnam veterans, loved ones, and especially our fallen heroes. let me also recognize vietnam veteran and and goldstar recipient, michael. please join me in thanking the president's united states marine corps band for their magnificent performance. now please rise as you are able
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and welcome the host members of the party. >> the secretary of defense, the honorable leon panetta. [applause] the secretary of interior, the honorable ken salazar. [applause] the honorable eric shinseki, secretary of veterans affairs. [applause] the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, martin dempsey. [applause] the honorable chuck hagel, former united states senator from nebraska. [applause] brian, medal of honor recipient. [applause]
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lieutenant-colonel steven west. the chaplains colonel of the united states air force. [applause] the invocation will be offered by lieutenant colonel west. was in the air force during the vietnam era and served in the 1970's before attending a defendant the school. -- divinity school. he continued serving as a chaplain. chaplain west, welcome. >> thank-you very much. it before i offer the prayer, i am honored to relay a message from a it godly man who ministered to our troops in vietnam and their families.
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he did so for many years and was a constant source and continues to be a constant source of strength to those who served in east asia. the rev. dr. billy graham. from polygram to our vietnam -- ourbilly graham and theird to vietnam veterans and their families. i visited with many of you in vietnam and southeast asia. sharing a message of hope and salvation through a hope and faith in jesus christ. during that dramatic time, i talked with you, prayed with you, and prayed for your families at home while you probably answered your nation's call. the years have blown by and we are all older now. at the age of 93, it is not possible for me to travel to be with you in person for the memorial day ceremony. i would like to take this opportunity to thank you again for your service. i will never forget my time
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visiting with troops, which i counted to be a great honor and privilege. we all need to look at the thousands of names carved on the vietnam memorial to realize the loss for so many families. for those of you who lost their father, brother, sister, mother, husband, or wife, or friends in vietnam are in the years that have passed since then, are those whose loved ones who are missing in action and not yet returned, it is my pra thatyer plant will be a comfort and encouragement to you as their service and sacrifice is recognized and their memory honored. may god bless each one of you,
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reverend billy graham. may we pray? heavenly father, you have blessed this great nation and have raised up sons and daughters willing to serve. we echo th sentimentse in paris of billy graham's as countless have journeyed to pay respect and honor and leave mementos or find inspiration. we pause to reflect. comfort the families of the fallen and missing and sue the -- sooth the paint in the comrades that are wanted and provide hope for the veterans that are homeless. for all that have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense
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of freedom, we are eternally grateful. we will always remember. amen. >> please be seated. ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming a truly heroic american. vietnam veteran and medal of honor recipient who will read the presidential proclamation on the 50th anniversary of the vietnam war. [applause] >> thank you. the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the vietnam war
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by the president of the united states of america. as we observe the 50th anniversary of the vietnam war, we reflect with solemn reverence upon a generation that served with honor. we pay tribute to the more than 3 million servicemen and women who left their families to serve bravely a world away from everything that they knew and everyone that they loved. from here to saigon and countless villages in between, they pushed through rice paddies, heat and monsoon fighting to protectto the ideals we hold dear as
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americans. these proud americans of held the highest traditions of our armed forces. as a grateful nation we honor more than 50,000 patriots. their names etched in black granite who sacrificed everything that they had an everything that they would know. for those who suffered as prisoners of war but returned home with their heads held high. we pledge to keep faith with those who were wounded and still carry the scars of war, seen and unseen. with more than 300 service members of monday missing, we pledge to do everything in our power to bring them home.
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we see military family members and friends that carries a pain that may never fade. made a fine piece in knowing -- may they find piece in knowing that their loved ones in door not only in metals and memories, but in the hearts of all of the americans who are grateful for their service and sacrifice. recognitionin of a chapter in our nation's history that must never be forgotten. let us renew it our commitment to those who heard the call in vietnam. beginning on memorial day, 2012, the federal government will partner with local governments, private organizations and communities to
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participate in the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the vietnam war. a 13-year program to honor and give thanks to a generation of proud americans who saw our country through it the most challenging situations our country has faced. our words will never be worthy of their service. nor any honor truly fitting their sacrifice. it is never too late to pay tribute to the men and women that answer the call of duty with courage and valor. let us renew our commitment for those who have not returned. throughout this commemoration, blooded strive to live up to their example by showing our vietnam veterans, their families, and all who have served, the fullest respect and support of a grateful nation.
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therefore i, barack obama, president of the united states of america biden virtue of the -- by virtue of the authority vested in me by the constitution and the laws of the united states proclaimed may 28, 2012, through november 11, at 2025, as commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the vietnam war. i call upon federal, state, and local officials to honor our vietnam veterans, are falling, -- our fallen, are wounded, those unaccounted for and our prisoners of war, their families, and all who served with the appropriate programs, at ceremonies, and activities. i have here in my hands on this 25th day of may in the year of our lord 2012 and the independence of the united states of america, the 236,
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barack obama. thank you. [applause] >> the national mall continues to be an important place for public events in our nation's history. please join me in welcoming the man who takes care of this and many of our nation's treasures. the secretary of the interior ken salazar. >> thank you very much, tom. to the vietnam veterans and their families and the men and women who are here and my
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cabinet colleagues, secretary panetta and shinseki, while come to all of you here. it is a privilege and honor to partner with all of you and the vietnam veterans memorial fund, the hollow place of our fallen heroes. the national park service oversees nearly 400 of the beautiful landscapes and historic land sites across the country including battlefields, military parks, and those who have defended our country. we have a noble responsibility to tell that story as part of america's story. the vietnam memorial is a living memorial. each year, people come here to honor their family and friends and those who they have never met. they leave flowers, metals, and written notes and prayers' at the base of the wall. the remembrances are the
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reminder that the great price of freedom is not simply edge on the blackstone of this memorial. it is etched on the hearts of those that more and the sailors, marines, and coastguardsman. these men, in the words of abraham lincoln, had the last devotion to their country. i want to pay tribute to the men whose names are on these walls including somebody in colorado. i also stand in honor of manuel. i remember at the age of 13 i attended his burial at a remote cemetery in colorado. i would never forget that service. it was the first time that i heard taps. the pain that his family
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endured. that has been the honor of the national park service to be custodian of this special place. i pledge our full support as we partner together to make the vietnam memorial visitors center at a reality beginning in 2012. may god bless you and may god bless the united states of america. >> thank you, secretary salazar. fellow veterans, military families cannot distinguished guests, it is a profound honor to join you on this hallowed ground on this very special day. our goldstar families dedicate this day to our loved ones who we at remember. today, i join with you to
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dedicate myself to the memory of my friends whose names are on this wall. robert, panel 27w. kenneth lancaster, panel 23. there is a poem was written in vietnam on new year's day, 1970. it if you are able, and save them a place in outside of view. -- inside of you. save one or glance what you are leaving. do not be ashamed to say that you love them. take what they have left and w havehat argue with their dying -- what they have taught you
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with their dying and keep it in your own. at a time when people feel safe enough to call a war and saying, take the time to embrace those heroes that you left behind. that poem was written by michael davis o'donnell. shortly after he wrote that poem he was, killed in action. major o'donnell has his place on this wall. panel 12w, line 40. for many years, representatives have traditionally laid leaves at the vietnam veterans memorial in honor of their fallen brothers, fathers and daughters, who gave the last full measure of devotion to the mayor, and -- to american and
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the cause of freedom. will the representatives of the following organizations come forward as you are recognized? we will observe a moment of silence.
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>> the vietnam women's memorial foundation, the gold star mothers in corp., a goldstar wives of america military order of the purple heart, a vietnam veterans of america, associates of vietnam veterans of america. sons and daughters in touch, national league of m.i.a., a pow families. veterans of foreign wars of the u.s. and disabled american veterans and vets. the american legion. ladies auxiliary to the foreign wars of the united states,
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operation freedom birds, the veterans advisory board. rolling thunder, washington, d.c., the ptsd class, and the washington veterans administration center.
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♪ ♪
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. >> the military has a chain of command. that is the top of the chain, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. before we start, we have a very special guest. i am sure you know who he
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is. we want to ask everybody to stand who has ever served in the united states air force and say hooha. all right. now we are going to ask the next branch of the service, which is the united states navy. we will ask you to stand and say hooha. is there and a coast guard out there? there has got to be. [applause] sounds like propeller is. it is good. how many of you have served in the united states army? it is unbelievable. i am just curious, did i leave any branch of the service out? united states marine corps. ok.
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at this time, tom selleck will be introducing to you our next speaker. >> ladies and gentlemen, please welcome a great leader and warrior. general martin dempsey. >> thanks, tom. thank you for your heartfelt words and your service in the army national guard. as we gather here at the vietnam veterans memorial, our veterans are gathering at cemeteries across the country. soldiers of the third infantry
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division and the honor guards of every service are on patrol making sure that 260,000 flags stand tall. row after row after row. at white pines cemetery a single widow presses a flag into the ground just like she did last year and the year before that. whether by the thousands or by ourselves, we all feel a common resolve on memorial day to pause, if only for a moment, and remember. this solemn tradition began in 1868 when decoration day was proclaimed by the commander of the army of the republic. since our republic's founding, nearly 2.5 million of our countrymen and women have made their
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breasts barricade between our country and its foes. some of those names are blasted into this wall. a wall and a war that some have compared to a scar. temperance has allowed us to see success were some only saw failure and saw valor were some refuse to let. vietnam, its veterans, and their families are not something apart from us. they are as fundamental to our national story and instrumental to our national security as any veteran of any war. the war'its 50th anniversary gives us an opportunity to remember and reflect on its story. the military family will join with the rest of the american
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family to remember, to learn and to see ourselves with a renewed perspective. right now, we can see the names of too many on the wall before us. these are america's sons and daughters. today, their sons, their daughters, and even their grandchildren follow them into the service. my first personal memory of war was in 1968. as a 16-year-old dishwasher at a small diner in new york, i watched a vietnam veteran get off the bus his first tour of duty in vietnam. at a time of our history when heroes were hard to find, i thought that i had found one. i never saw anybody so handsome, physical, so determine, so proud performed -- so proud. captain john gramm was his name. he was a big part of the reason i went to west point.
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in 1971, he was returned from his second tour of duty, having been killed in action as an adviser to the vietnamese army. i attended the ceremony on a very cold day in the winter of 1971. his son is now on the faculty at west point. officer roy thomas was a gunship pilot with the 24th infantry division. he died in battle when his son was 4 months old. his son is an air force colonel on my staff today. john and roy are just two examples representatives of thousands more who share a bond with their forbearers. whether they served in vietnam, iraq, afghanistan, whether they return home are are still awaiting their homecoming, there is no difference in their courage or sense of duty. there is no difference when it comes to fear or suffering on the front lines and on the home
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front. there is no difference in the love and the longing of families. there is no difference in the wounds that remain both seen and unseen. however, let us resolve that there will be one essential difference that we will never allow our veterans or their families to be left alone. left to fend for themselves. let us resolve not just to say welcome home, but to truly -- [applause] let us resolve today not just to say welcome home, but to truly welcome our troops home with the respect and care that
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they and their families have earned. such resolve is evident in those who join us today and those who gathered to support this memorial. we can see it in our president, first lady, and secretary of defense. i know that secretary panetta shares the commitment to keep faith with our military family and keep in touch with our military family. he shares my unbounded pride with those who have served in uniform. please welcome leon panetta. [applause] >> thank you very much. marty, tom, ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests, america's veterans, i am honored to be here today with all of you as we commemoration of the 50th anniversary of america's participation in the vietnam war.
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memorial day is an appropriate opportunity for all americans to come together, to pay tribute to all of those who have fought and died for our country are across more than 200 years and battlefields near and far. america's sons and daughters have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our liberties to give us all a better life. at this hour, at this hallowed and haunting memorial, we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the vietnam war. a war that occupies a central place in the american story. millions of americans were sent
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acrosst the pacific to a little no place to fight in service of a country that they loved. not only at this hour, but at all times, we remember and carry in our hearts, more than 58,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, coastguardsman, whose names are inscribed on this dark wall for eternity. for me personally, this is especially moving moment. as member and later chairman of the vietnam era veterans caucus in the house of representatives, i had the honor to work on the endowment of this memorial. to see the names of soldiers
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that i served with inscribed on this wall. to see names of officers that went with rotc with me at santa clara, inscribed on this wall. to know my class mate who served in this war. no memorial -- no memorial better reflects the pain and the sacrifices that were made. many more came home. came home from that war to a country that failed to fully acknowledge their courage and sacrifice and give them the honor that they deserved. that experience, that failure to thank those that were willing to put their lives on the line for this country was burned into the soul of my generation.
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for too many vietnam veterans, the recognition of their bravery came too late. the vietnam generation, my generation, is graying now. but this commemoration effort gives the country an opportunity today and in the years ahead to, try and right to wrongs of the past, to remember those who served in this war and what they did for us, their service, and their sacrifice on our behalf. last week i had the opportunity to join the president in paying tribute to a fallen member of that generation. a specialist to posthumously received the medal of honor.
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he died in vietnam saving his brothers in arms. and it was those same brothers from the 101st airborne division that campaign to reopen the medal of honor process more than 10 years ago. a story of les is in many ways the story of the vietnam war. we forgot and now i finally remembered. next week, as secretary of defense, i will have the opportunity to travel to vietnam and continue strengthening the ties that our countries are re-establishing since 1995. we have come a long way since the war has ended.
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it was the veterans of vietnam who led the way for the two nations to try to heal the wounds of war. they are trying to identify and locate the remains of fallen service members missing in action in vietnam. let me assure you that the sacred mission will continue until all of our troops come home turf and are accounted for. -- home and are accounted for. [applause] it reflects the determination of our country that no men or women are left behind. it honors those with their service, their valor, and their sacrifice. during the last decade of war, like past generations of
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warriors, another generation has answered the call to fight with sacrifice on foreign soil. they have done all that this country has asked them to do and more. as they have returned from overseas, america with her vietnam's front and center in the effort have embraced this new greatest generation of service members, showing that we have learned perhaps the most important lesson to come out of the vietnam war. the debt we owe to those who fight and who died for our freedoms. [applause] the president and mrs. obama have done so much to encourage americans to do more to recognize and support these great patriots. they have led the fight for the men and women who fought for our nation.
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as this nation faces tough economic times, we must do everything we can to ease the transition for the thousands of service members who will come home from war. they fought for us. the least we can do is fight for them. [applause] it is now my honor to introduce one of those soldiers. who fought in vietnam, senator chuck hagel. he led an and for sure squad in vietnam following the tet offensive. like millions of our generation, he demonstrated heroism on the battlefield.
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he also demonstrated that patriotism, bravery, and heroism in public service that is followed. we thank you for honoring us with your presence today. thank you for your commitment to the united states of america. god bless you. >> leon, thank you. i am honored to be among you today. i am grateful for an opportunity to say a few words or i introduce our special guest this afternoon. this uniquely american day, memorial day, was born at more than 140 years ago, after america's civil war. the war that tore at the heart and fabric of our republic. it produced a simple and elegant memorial that watches over us today.
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it reflects the images of the future as it records the names of the past. memorials are built for the living in order to instruct our destiny as they honor and remember those who fell in the service of their country. memorials further instruct us of the powerful responsibility of our nation'a stewart's to make sacrifices. war is not an abstraction, it is brutal. there is always the haunting portents of unintended consequences, and controls and unpredictable. even though this is so, america's men and women have always found higher purpose and service to their country. i often think about the quiet heroes that my brother and i served in vietnam in 1968. i am proud that my brother is sitting here in the front row. i never knew -- thank you. [applause]
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i never knew nor served with a better soldier or a better man than my brother tom. these quiet heroes who we fought with winter juggles with and sometimes helplessly watched die always considered ourselves ordinary people. but they were far from ordinary. they viewed themselves as ordinary because they were humble, patriotic, and selfless. they never asked for or expected anything in return for their service other than respect and dignity. tragically, what they received upon return from a confused and angry nation was neither. they were blamed for what consumed america for so many years. the vietnam veterans memorial means many things to many people. not only is there deep meeting in connection to the wall, so it is with all americans in all
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generations. among these feelings for vietnam veterans is a responsibility and honor to assist returning veterans from the wars of the last 20 years, assuring that the returning veterans have productively integrated back into society with the recognition be fitting a great nation. as we have painfully learned the tragic lessons from vietnam, society must always separate the war from the warrior. we do not celebrate the vietnam war. we commemorate and historically recognized it. as i said at the vietnam memorial groundbreaking on the very sight in 1982. there is no glory in war, only suffering. life is always more about the people than the event. events are stages upon which individuals change the world.
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today we celebrate those individuals that change the country for the better. the veterans and their families. we also recognize those of you who are assisting military families today like the first lady michelle obama and dr. jill biden. the care -- character of a nation is always oobs about who it chooses to be its leaders. on behalf of this beautifully creator endowed land, here to speak for all of us on this day when we are all americans is the leader of our country, the 41st president of the united states, barack obama. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, please rise for the guest of honor and remain standing until the colors are retired.
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♪ the president of the united states, barack obama. first lady michelle obama, a vice president biden and dr. biden. [hail to the chief playing] [applause]
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♪ ♪ [star spangled banner]
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♪ >> right shoulder, arm. colors. march.
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>> please be seated. >> good afternoon, everybody. chuck, thank you for your words and your friendship. and your life of service. veterans to have vietnam war, families, friends, distinguished guests. i know it is hot. but you here to honor your loved ones and michelle and i could not be more honored to be here with you.
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it speaks to the complexity of america's time in vietnam, that even now, historians cannot agree on precisely when the war began. major combat operations will not begin until the mid 1960's. but if any year in between illustrated the changing nature of our involvement, it was 1962. it was january. in saigon. our army pilots strapped on their helmets and boarded their helicopters. they lifted off, over treetops, carrying south vietnamese troops. it was a single raid against an
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enemy stronghold, just a few miles into the jungle, but it was one of america's first major operations in that faraway land. 50 years later, we come to this wall, to this sacred place to remember. we can step towards its granite wall and reach out, touch a name , today begins the 50th commemoration of our war in vietnam. we honor each of those names etched in stone, 58,222 patriot
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americans. we salute all who served with them. we stand with the families who love them still. for years, you have come here to be with them once more. and the simple things you have left behind, your offerings, your me metropolitanmentoes, your gifts -- your mementos, your gifts. the blake blanket that covered him as baby. the baseball bat he swung as a boy. the wedding ring the photo of the grandchild he never met.
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the boots he wore still caked in mud. the medals she earned still shining. and of course some of the things left here have special meaning known only to the veterans. a can of beer, a packet of mm & m&m's. a container of spam. an old field ration. still good. still awful. [laughter] it is here we feel depth of your sacrifice. and here we see a piece of our larger american story. our founders in their genius gave us a task. they set out to make a more perfect union. so it falls to every generation to carry on that work, to keep moving forward, to overcome a
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sometimes painful past, to keep striving for our ideals. one of the most painful chapters in our history was vietnam. most particularly how we treated our troops who served there. you offered blame for a war you didn't start, when you should have been commended for serving your country with valor. you're sometimes blamed for misdeeds of a few. [applause] when the honorable service of the many should have been praised, you came home and sometimes were denigrated when you should have been celebrated.
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it was a national shame, a disgrace that should have never happened. that's why here today, we resolve that it will not happen again. [applause] so a central part of this 50st anniversary will be to tell your story as it should have been told all along. it is another chance to set the record straight. that's one more way we keep perfecting our union, setting the record straight, and it starts today. because history will honor your service. your name also join a story of sthaves stretches back two centuries. let us tell the story of a
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generation of service members, every color, creed, rich, poor officer who enlisted who served with just as much patriotism and honor as any before you. let's never forget that most of those who served in vietnam did so by choice. so many of you volunteered, your country was at war and you said send me. that includes our women in vietnam. every one of you a volunteer. [applause] those who were drafted, they too went and carried their burden. you served. you did your duty. you persevered through some of the most brutal conditions ever faced by americans in war. the suffocating heat, the drenching monsoon rains, an
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enemy that could come out of nowhere and vanish just as quickly. some of the most intense urban combat in history in battles for a single hill that could rage for weeks. let it be said, in those hellholes like briar patch and the zoo, and the hanoi hilton, our vietnam p.o.w.s didn't simply endure, you wrote some of the greatest stories in our history. [applause] as a nation, we have long celebrated the counselor of our forces at norman di. -- let us also speak of your courage at kesan, saigon,
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hamburger hill, rolling thunder. all too often it is forgot than you, our troops in vietnam won ever major battle you fought in. [applause] when you came home, i know many of you put your medals away, tucked them in a drawer, or a box in the closet. you went on with your lives. started families and pursued careers. a lot of you didn't talk too much about your service. as a consequence, this nation has not always fully appreciated the chapter r of your lives that came next it tells story of a generation of those who came home and how even though some
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americans turned their backs on you, you never turned you back on america. [applause] like generations before you, you took off the uniform, but you never stopped serving. you became teachers, police officers, nurses, folks we count on every single day. you became entrepreneurs running companies and pioneering industries that changed the world. you became leaders and public servants from town halls capitol hill, lifting up our communities, our states, our nation. you reminded us what it was like to serve. what it meant to serve. those of you who stayed in uniform, you rose through the ranks, became leaders in every service, learned from your experience in vietnam and
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rebuilt our military into the finest force that the world has ever known. [applause] and let's remember, all those vietnam veterans who came back and served again in the wars in iraq and afghanistan. you did not stop serving. [applause] even as you succeeded in all of these endeavors, you did something more. maybe the most important thing you did, you looked after each other. when your government didn't live up to its responsibilities, you spoke out, fighting for the care and benefited you had earned and over time transforming the v.a. and of course one of these vietnam veterans is now our
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outstanding secretary of veteran affairs, rick shenseki. you looked after one another. you looked after one another. you cared for one another. these pem were not always talking about -- people were not always talking about it at a time when you understood it and you were there for each other. just as importantly, you didn't just take care of your own. you cared for those that followed. you made it your mission to make sure today's troops get the respect and support that all too often you did not receive. [applause] because of you, because our vietnam veterans led the charge, the post 9/11 g.i. bill is helping hundreds of thousands of
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today's veterans go to college and pursue their dreams. [applause] because of you, because you didn't let us forget, at our airports, our returning troops, you are there to shake their hands. because of you across america, communities have welcomed home our forces from iraq and when our troops turn from afghanistan, america will give this entire 9/11 generation the welcome home they deserve. that happened in part because of you. [applause] this is the story of our vietnam service members. a story that needs to be told. this is what this 50th anniversary is all about. it is another opportunity to say
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to our vietnam veterans, what we should have been saying from the beginning. you did your job. you served with honor. you made us proud. you came home and you helped build the america that we love. and that we cherish. so here today, it must be said, you have earned your place among the greatest generations. at this time, i would ask all our vietnam veterans, those of you who can stand, to please stand. all of those already standing, raise your hands, as we say those simple words which always greet our troops when they come home from here on out. welcome home! welcome home! [applause] welcome home! thank you!
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welcome home! [applause] today we're calling on all americans at every segment of our society to join this effort. everybody can do something. five decades removed from a time of division among americans, this anniversary can remind us of what we share as americans. that includes honoring our vietnam veterans by never forgetting the lessons of that war. let us resolve that when america sends our sons and daughters into harm's way, we will always give them a clear mission. we will always give them a sound strategy. we will give them the equipment they need to get the job done. we will have their backs. [applause]
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we will resolve the leaders will be candid about the risks and about progress and have a plan to bring our troops home with honor. let us resolve to never forget the costs of war, including the terrible loss of innocent civilians, not just in vietnam, but in all wars. we know while your sacrifice and service the very definition of glory, war itself is not glorious. we hate war. when we fight, we do so to protect ourselves because it is necessary. let's resolve that in our democracy, we can debate and disagree, even in a time of war, but let us never use patriotism as a political sword. patriots can support a war and oppose a war. whatever our view, let us always stand united in support of our
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troops whom we have placed in harm's way. that is our solemn obligation. [applause] not just in the first five years after a war, but first five decades. for our vietnam veterans, this means the disability benefits for diseases connected to agent orange. it means job opportunities and mental health care to help you stand tall again. it means ending the tragedy of veteran homelessness that every veteran who fought has a home in america. you should not have to fight for a roof over your heads when you
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fought on behalf of the country that you love. [applause] when an american does not come back, including the 1,666 americans still missing from the vietnam war, let us resolve to do everything in our power to bring them home. this is our solemn promise to mothers like sarah shay who joins us today. 93 years old, who has honored her son. major donald shay jr., missing in action for 42 years. there she is. sarah, thank you for your courage. god bless you. [applause]
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the maroney family of fayetteville, arkansas. 41 years after he went missing. we can announce that army captain virgil maroney iii is coming home and he will finally rest in peace. [applause] some have called this war a scar on our country. here is what i say. as any wound heels, the tissue around it becomes tougher. becomes stronger than before. finally we might begin to see the true legacy of vietnam. because of vietnam and our
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veterans, we now use american power smarter, we honor our military more, we take care of our veterans better. because of the hard lessons of vietnam, because of you, america is stronger than before. [applause] finally, on this anniversary and all the years to come, let us remember what binds us as one people, this is important for all of us whether you fought in the vietnam war or fought against it, whether you were too young to be shaped by it, it is important that our children understand the sacrifices that were made by our troops in vietnam. that for them, this is more than just a name in the history books. it is important that we know the lessons of a gift once left at this memorial. it was toward the end of the day
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and most of the tourists and visitors had departed and there was a football helmet, black with white stripes and a wristband. with them was a handwritten note. it was from a young man, still in high school, and mind you, this was more than two decades after vietnam. that high school student was born years after the war had already ended. but in that shorthand written note, he captured the reverence, the bonds between generations that bring us here today. the letter began, dear vietnam veterans. here are two things from me to you that i think you should have. he explained that it was his helmet from midget football and his wristband from his senior year. so today, i want to close with
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the words he wrote. in these two pieces of equipment, i was allowed to make mistakes, correct them, grow, and mature as a person. however, that was on my battlefield. you didn't get the chance to do that on your battlefield. some of you were forced to grow up too fast. all of you died too soon. we do have many things in common, though. we both have pride, heart and determination. i'm just sorry you guys had to learn those qualities too fast. that is why i'm giving you what i grew up with. you are true heroes and you will never be forgotten. this is from a high school kid. born decades after the end of the war.
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ened that captures the spirit -- and that captures the spirit this entire country should embrace. veterans, families of the vietnam war, i know the wounds of war are slow to heal. you know that better than most. but today, we take another step. the task of telling your story continues and the work of perfecting our union goes on and decades from now, i hope another young american will visit this place and reach out and touch a name and in that moment of understanding of gratitude, and of grace, your legacy will endure. for you are all true heroes and
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you will all be remembered. may god bless you. may god bless your families. may god bless our me and women in uniform, and may god bless these united states of america. [applause] >> thank you very much, mr. president. there is a tradition at the wall when a new name is added. it is read on memorial day. this year, 10 new names were added to the wall. we ask the families of these heroes to rise as their loved ones are read.
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>> albert kueva. [applause] joseph william aubin. [applause] richard carl hunt. [applause] richard duane stocker. [applause] david mclean. [applause] walter alan lindsay. [applause] frank a. neary. david lawrence decker. [applause] larry morgan kelly. [applause]
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johnny owen books. [applause] the wall now bears the names of 58,282 heroes. ladies and gentlemen, please rise as the president, the first lady and our other distinguished leaders take their place at the wall with families of the fallen who represent not only their loved ones but all who served, suffered and sacrificed in the name of freedom. >> joining the president and first lady is mrs. rose marie brown, wife of medal of honor
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recipient sergeant leslies sabo. joining the vice president to have united states, joe biden and dr. jill biden is mrs. janine rosina. sister of captain lance, u.s. air force in honor of american prisoners of war. joining the honorable leon panetta, secretary of defense is mrs. sarah francis shay, the mother of donald emerson shay jr. joining the honorable ken salazar, secretary of the interior are grady renville, the
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brother of travis and nephew of specialist arvin renville. joining the honorable eric shinseki, secretary of veterans affairs, frank neary jr. christopher neary. in honor of all veteran who is bear the wounds of war. joining general martin dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff is dave clinker, brother of captain mary clinker, in honor of all women warrior who is served. joining genere, chief of staff united states army, is jeanette early. in honor of every soldier who
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served. joining major general timothy hanifan, united states marine corps, is george janne carter crow, mother of private first class bruce carter in honor of every marine who served. joining admiral mark ferguson, vice chief of naval operations is stephanie, niece of richard hunt in honor of every sailor who served. joining general philip breedlove, vice chief of staff, united states air force is colleen, daughter of lieutenant colonel cameron shine in honor of every member of the air force who served. joining admiral brown, united
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states coast guard, is henry, the brother of conway radicher. in honor of every member of the coast guard who served. joining general craig r. mckinley, chief of national guard bureau is bill siler and steven siler in honor of every member of the guard and reserve who is served. joining the honorable william burns, deputy secretary of state is cindy coal cole -- coleman. joining the honorable john picari, deputy si secretary of transportation is commander william cahill, u.s. navy, retired. a vietnam veteran and member of
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the department of transportation to honor all who served in the merchant marines. joining mr. jan scrugs is miss billy gabriel, the sister of specialist james gabriel in honor of all special forces. joining major general victor hugo, u.s. army retired, is jamie chan, daughter of colonel van nguyen in honor of all who served. >> ♪
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♪ ♪ [amazing grace playing, bagpipes] ♪
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[applause] >> ready, set! ♪
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[tap"taps" playing, trumpet] >> [choir singing]
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♪ [helicopter sounds] ♪
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[applause] ♪
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>> please, be seated. ♪
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>> ♪ mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the lord ♪ his truth is marching on ♪ glory, glory, hallelujah
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♪ his name is marching on glory, glory hallelujah glory, glory hallelujah
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his truth is marching on ♪ [applause] in the beauty of the day christ was born with the glory in his bosom that transfigures you and me
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[indistinct lyrics] his truth is marching on glory, glory hallelujah, glory, glory hallelujah glory, glory, hallelujah his truth is marching on glory, glory hallelujah glory, glory hallelujah glory, glory hallelujah his truth is marching on glory
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glory ♪ -- amen amen ♪ >> this is 40 minutes.
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>> forward. raise. halt! present! ♪ [marching band playing "the star-spangled banner"]
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>> forward! [indistinct cadence]
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present! >> present! >> huh! [drumroll]
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["taps" playing]
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>> forward! [indistinct cadence] [indsinct]
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>> the u.s. army military district of washington. major-general michael s. livingston. ms. catherine a. executive director army program. general martin martin dempsey, chairman joint chiefs of staff. the honorable leon panetta, the affirmative defense. -- secretary of defense.
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♪ ladies and gentleman, the president of the united states. ["hail to the chief" playing] [applause] >> ladies and gentleman, chaplain berry. >> join me please. eternal god, lord of time and eternity, lord of the living and the dead, you have made yourself known to us by your
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mighty works throughout the history of our nation. from our earliest beginnings you have guided us through times of the diversity and prep asperity -- prosperity, during war and peace. you have shown yourself strong to save us, among all the nations of the earth. america it has been richly blessed in extraordinary ways. we remember with highest esteem and devoted respect our fellow citizens to have fallen and died in america's wars. many of these gallant americans died before the enemy's guns. many die alone. all served for the sake of future generations of americans who they themselves would never know. many of these patriots are long dead, and yet time will not efface the glory of their deeds or the sting of their lost.
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lived out of this nation's wounded heart as we remember them -- lift up this nation's wounded hard as we remember them and their sacrifice. these quiet heroes have caused our flag to continue to fly high. in power is to take up the right of liberty so on our watch it may remain free. this is our fervent hope and this is for what we pray, amen. >> amen. >> please welcome the u.s. army band and singing the u.s. national anthem. >> o say do i see -- can you see by the dawn's early light was so proud of the week hailed -- what so proudly we hailed
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at the twilight's last gleaming? o'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming? and the rockets' red glare the bombs bursting in air gave proof through the night that our flag was still there o say does that star-spangled banner yet wave o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave? ♪
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[applause] >> please be seated. >> ladies and gentlemen, general dempsey. [applause] >> mr. president, secretary panetta, secretary shinkseki, and most especially, the families of our fallen warriors -- welcome. today is worth noting that memorial day was originally known as decoration day. we decorated with vibrant colors to express the depth of our collective gratitude and our pride in those risking everything for our country. despite the celebratory hues,
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the american family also pauses to mourn members of our military family he will not come home. this complex range of emotions is evident in a piece by it one of america's greatest writers, longfellow. one of his poems entitled "direct -- "decoration day." wall relieved that his own son of shirley -- while relieved that his own son charlie returned home state from work, he was afraid that many did not. he concludes -- "your silent tents of green we deck with fragrant flowers yours the suffering has been the memory shall be hours." the memory will be ours.
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it is a manifestation of the sacred bond of trust between the military family and the larger american family. but what really counts is the bond we have with those who are still here and now we turn that memory into action. today, which stand behind families who will never be a whole again, but we continue to stand with them every day. support them in the ways that they need most, particularly as they transition back into their homes and communities. so that they know we do not just think of them, but we really do remember. every national-level department and agency represented here today is committed to making education, medical care, and
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employment opportunities accessible to the military family. but the va cannot drop the kids off at soccer and the d.o.t. cannot help you study for your final -- dod cannot help to study for your final exam. it is no surprise that this has had a local observance years before nationally. it demands our constant attention and is something we will have to keep delivering. and we will . because the memory is hours. -- ours. all of ours. we will remember. may god bless the fallen, the missing, and may god bless all of us. god bless america. [applause]
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>> ladies and gentleman, listen now as the united states army band performs "the last full measure of devotion." ♪ >> ♪ in the long and honered history there are names that shine like beacons in the night the patroits whose vision give us meaning who kept the lamp of freedom burning bright
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in the long history of america there are those who paid the last, final price who were called upon f nationgreatful in thanks for guaranteeing our tomorrow >> ♪ the last full measure of devotion that is what they gave to the
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cause the last full measure of devotion and though they cannot hear our applause, foreverhonor them and give them all the glory full measure of devotion beyond the call of duty measure ofst full devotion they gave themselves to serve
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of the regent law school. [applause] >> thank you, sir. thank you so much. good morning and congratulations to everyone here today. chancellor robertson, president campo, faculty, staff, alumni, and class of 2012, give yourselves a hand.
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and this is a day for joy. we rejoice in the marvelous completion that god as brought about in your life. as an alumnus myself, i know the wonderful feeling you have today. just like creation, god look to your graduation and said this, too,just like the creation, god looks at your graduation and says this, too, is very good. thank him for what he has done for you. let us also remember the unsung heroes in each one of your lives, including your families. without them, today would not have been possible. thank them. give them a kiss, give them a day off. whatever they need, they deserve it. it was 26 years ago when i became an alumni of this law school, and it was 24 years ago
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where i sat out where all of you are sitting, trying to keep my boys quiet in the seat, as my husband received his diploma from dr. robertson. as i was sitting out there trying to keep our two young boys quiet, i never imagined that i would be running for president of the united states. you just never know. [applause] but i also want to promise you, as you graduate from regent today and become an alumnus, you will never join a more finer club. the dues were stiff, but the benefits are eternal, and will redound not only to you but the people you serve and minister to in the future.
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i want to congratulate you on one of the finest investment decisions you have ever made, and i don't just mean your newfound earning potential. your decision to come to regent was an act of sheer obedience. susan,what it was for and for me, too, the voice of almighty god. coming to reach into university was an excellent decision, a life-changing decision. my purpose today is to remind you that this day would not have occurred without the prayer and vision and work of countless generations who went before you. there would never have been a regent university, there never would have been this lovely, albeit hot, ceremony today, without the passion of matthew 24:14, "to preach the gospel to
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all the nations," had not been the chief motivator for all those i share the platform with today. i want to share with you the origin of one of the schools here, the regent law school. the reason this law school is here today is because there is an eye doctor from muskogee, oklahoma. his eye doctor was a businessman. he had been burned one too many times by crooked, greedy lawyers. i don't mean to be redundant when i say that, but the eye doctor was a christian, a
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leading man. he thought to himself, wouldn't the country be better off if we had christian lawyers? even in oklahoma, he could not find christian lawyers. he donated money to start the school of law, which you see now, the regent law school. i was in college at that time, and i sensed god called me to law school. that is not unusual. but to a law school based on biblical review, that was a problem. i couldn't find one because there wasn't one in the country. this was back in 1977. then i found out that this school would not open until 1979. the school had no accreditation, no faculty, no books, no application forms. so i waited. eventually i became the very first student -- susan, does this sound familiar? -- the first student on the first class on the first day of the first year of this law school. our motto that year as a brand new law school was "we know nothing, and we can prove it." [laughter] what we did know how to do was
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be people of faith and prayer. we studied extremely hard because we were forging a new way to understand the law. we not only learned the black letter laws that all students have to learn in the united states. in tandem, we also learned what the bible had to say about the particular area of law, down to the most minute technicalities. it was the greatest intellectual and spiritual experience of my life. i would not have traded a harvard education for the legal education i received here at regent. someday you will appreciate that as well. we prayed our way through navigating this new way of studying law. we grew exponentially, and i will tell you why -- we were taught here under the power of
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the holy spirit. there is no greater professor than the holy spirit. [applause] because, you see, we woke up and entered our classroom, prayed before every classroom meeting. our watchword was this -- we dedicated ourselves to the glory of god and the advancement of the gospel. if you look to this direction, the very ministries of cbn and ultimately, regent university, were all born out of that same insatiable desire, to serve the lord. on this very geographical side, the ground upon which you are seated today, to the glory of god, to advance the gospel. so literally did dr. pat and fellow co-laborers take this
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charge, they saw by faith everything you see before you now. they birthed it in prayer before any of it came into existent. turn your heads right now, consider every building, every program, every person here today is a result of those prayers and faith in almighty god. see the wealth, see the prosperity, the unparalleled building up that continues today with the building of the divinity school and chapel. you cannot choose a more awe- inspiring visual for the beauty of the world. there were years when pat and the children ate a lot of soybeans, not because it was cool, but because it was cheap. you know, you are just
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completing that schedule in your life as well. there were plenty of times when their prayers did not turn out the way they had hoped, either. we understand that, too. but just the way that nehemiah rebuilt the walls in jerusalem, and how quickly the walls were rebuilt, consider how quickly the lord built this world wide ministry and university for his glory, and the advancement of the gospel. you see, it is no fluke that we are privileged to sit and stand here today on this hallowed ground. we, the recipients of unparalleled blessings. it was 405 years ago this week when the very first settlers arrived at the jamestown settlement. they were famous for starting the settlement, and when they
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landed, they knelt and prayed, and their prayer was very specific. they dedicated this north american continent to the glory of god and the advancement of the gospel. that is our pattern that we are forged from. it was some years later in 1979 when a virginia farmer -- you may know him as george washington -- went to new york city and was sworn in as the first president of this new country. after swearing in at federal hall, now wall street, he traveled down to a church, which is located at ground zero. at that church, george washington himself prayed and dedicated this nation to the glory of god and the advancement of the gospel. 307 years after the first jamestown survivors stood here, coincidently, again, the very same week, cbn dedicated the
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very first satellite earth station to the worldwide proclamation of the gospel. that may seem like nothing to you now, in a day when we all have smartphones, in a day when satellite television is everywhere. but at that time, never before in the history of the world, in 5000 years of recorded human history, had gospel been heard around the world. it was the prayers of the jamestown settlers 405 years ago this week, and occured here at this campus at cbn university. all praise and thanks and glory to an almighty god. [applause] in fact, it was the reverend
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billy graham who said, the words of matthew 24:14, "this gospel shall be preached a doctrine to all nations" -- dr. graham said it was fulfilled on this campus. don't forget this place, don't forget regent, don't forget cbn university. this is an extremely important part of god's history. i come to you with a warning on this happy morning. do not forget your first love. do not forget the eternal truths you learned here. my heart is broken over the current spiritual condition of america. i ran for president of the united states because of what i saw happening to our great country. i knew the sacrifices and the
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prayers and all that had gone on to build up this fabulous nation, and i knew we cannot stand idly by and see it torn down. we needed to stand for it and build it up and pray for it. and so i ran. and yes, we do have political problems, and i'm involved in that process, and i actually thought i had a lot of good answers to those political problems. and we have moral problems as well. as believers, we cannot shy away from the political problems, and we should not. there is a move to tell christians to get out of politics. don't listen to it. we have moral problems. christians cannot ignore the moral problems. ultimately, the foundation of our problems is spiritual, and that is because even in our nation, even in many of our churches, we diminish the god of the universe by embracing a
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philosophy that says we must all coexist. have you seen the bumper sticker? "jesus is but one of many ways to god." as believers, we should not offend anyone. even in churches, we cannot get too out there. we cannot talk about sin or the need for repentance, because too many churches tell us that if we talk about sin or sin in church, we might offend people. if we offend people, maybe they won't come to jesus christ. but we forget, that is the point. jesus is the rock of offense, he is the stumbling stone of history. [applause] the law was given, the bible tells us, to show us our sin. let's face it, we're sinners,
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and without christ, we are eternally separated from god. even many in the church today are reluctant to say that there is a day of judgment coming, but there is, and there is a literal hell, and without christ, that is the future of man. the gospel in the charter right here at jamestown is that the good and loving god has made his way of escape from sin and from hell. jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice, something none of us can do on our own. when we believe in his name, we are saved. that is the fulfillment of the gospel, proclaimed by god, we told by the prophets, fulfilled by christ, spread across the ages to all people, all nations, tongues, and tribes. we here at regent re the
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recipient of a big division, given and born in the heart of an almighty god himself. as paul told timothy, "faithfully transfer the gospel of jesus christ." we have been interested with the big vision, big commission. it is from those who saw into the future. never despise small beginnings. that is the fountain of greatness, that one day we would literally be here, the fulfillment, the incarnate literal fulfillment of their prayers. the world thinks christianity is about being nice and letting other people win. i'm just saying, that is not my view, i don't think that is god's. we are to be on offense with the gospel of jesus christ, going everywhere into every man's world.
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christianity is a life that is lived by grace and god. in the political world i have been called into, i cannot escape from the seriousness of the hour that we live in. i do believe these are urgent, perilous times, directly tied to the fact that for too long, our nation has neglected a fidelity to the truth of god's word. we are all called to minister somewhere in some way. you have been called, each one of you, to the arts, business, ministry, politics, the law, all for the advancement of the gospel. together, we are the most beautiful picture of the tapestry of his kingdom, a foreshadowing of eternal life in the literal kingdom of heaven yet to come. just as hell is a real place, be encouraged, beloved, because heaven is also a real place, and every day i find that the
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political battles are larger. i get what hell looks like, and d.c. can make the answers very maddening. it is like the old saying, the faster we go, the behinder we get. christians cannot give up on politics. sin is ugly. me first, you not at all. sensuality and personal fulfillment. redefining basics like the family. ask any 3-year-old what the family is, and he will be able to tell you, but not the whizbangs in washington, d.c. number one, your presence at regent and your graduation of the literal fulfillment of generations of urban prayer.
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be grateful for what others have done for you. second, you hold in your future the ability to bless the world with the lifesaving power of jesus christ. don't miss the ticket to that train. third, you carry the awesome privilege and responsibility of the faithfully living a life all to the glory of god and the advancement of the gospel as generations of faithful believers di before you. be grateful for this eternal message, going off for the glory of god and advancement of the gospel. it is the message of regent university. make that message your own. god bless you all. have a great life. [applause]
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noon and 10:00 p.m. eastern. >> massachusetts senator john kerry delivered the commencement address in newton, massachusetts. he called on graduates to become more involved in the political process. this is a little less than a half hour.
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>> incoming president brown, >> members of the board of trustees, distinguished faculty and staff, and obviously, the unexcited and completely irrepressible class of 2012. [laughter] [applause] when the doctor called me to speak, he said that this class wanted somebody who is dynamic and entertaining. [laughter] well, lady gaga wasn't available, so here i am. [laughter] let me begin by extending, you all have been wonderful the way you have embraced me today, i can feel the emotion and hear it in all of your speakers, but particularly your president. i want to join everybody in extending a remarkable career the greatest cgratulations
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that deserves. the new athletic turf that the mustangs did not get to play on but in the future will. [applause] i am an old lacrosse player, and i mean old. [laughter] it is a great pleasure. this man has really led this college in a remarkable way, and i know you all agree with that. we were classmates in college. i wish him well on his retirement. but speaking personally, he is way too young to retire. [laughter] [applause] in the united states senate, we would call him one of the young turks still. [laughter]
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i join in everybody in extending the highest and best wishes to his successor, professor barry brown, and i'm confident, as with all of you, that professor brown will move mount ida forward into a great second century. also, what a privilege to receive an honorary degree in the company i am receiving. clearly, the supreme judicial court justice barbara lenk and gerald chertavian have accomplished amazing things. one is a remarkable job is dedicated to the rule of law and making sure that r juste system works, and the other has touched the lives after being remarkably successful entrepreneurially, and has decided to give that and make sure that young kids who are at risk and in trouble all have opportunities that don't depend on their bank account or
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zip code, but open up the opportunities to where they are supposed to. i am honored to receive an honorary degree with them, and i salute both of them for that great accomplishment. [applause] also want to take a moment of what we call in the senate personal privilege, if i may. in the senate, i am lucky to have on my team somebody by the name of alexandra nunez, and here, you are lucky to have alex's mother, or as you call her, dean nunez. mount ida parents thank you for helping to educate their kids, and i thank you for raising an extraordinary kid who is one of my best staffers. she is here somewhere. i am happy to celebrate her. [applause] i also want to salute the mayor of the great city of newton, who was by my side every single
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day of the presidential campaign. he was my trip director, responsible for every stop everywhere we made in the country. he was also a staff director, deputy director, up here in massachusetts. i watched him go off to war. he took a year's leave from my office to go to iraq, where he served as an officer in intelligence, and return home now to serve with distinction the city of newton. it is great to see you here in that position. [applause] so here's the deal -- i was just reminded that i am the 10th most senior senator in the united states senate, and with now, regrettablydick lugar's loss and the retirement of the senator from new mexico, i will move up to eighth, which is scary to me. [laughter]
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but the truth is, i stand here now with far more power that i have ever had in the united states senate, because i'm just about all that stands between you and your degrees. [laughter] i ruminated on how to handle that power. on one hand, i thought i might give it one hour, 20 minute speech on foreign policy, global warming, the european debt crisis. then on the other hand, i thought that if we keep it about 10 minutes, we would have more time to have a beer together. [applause] so let me see now, this is a really hard choice. one hour, 20 minutes? 10 minutes and a beer? [laughter] i tell you, you guys can vote. i'm going for 10 minutes, that simple.
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[laughter] i have had the privilege of going to quite a few commencemes over the course ofy senate career, and obviously, as a parent, and as a student. the commencement addresses, i will tell you, are dangerous. they are hard, and they are dangerous because they can quickland easily fall into too many cliches. you have heard them all. "it is not an end, a beginning." "whatever makes you happy, chase it --" da-da-da-da. [laughter] i thought i would give you some really simple, quick advice, practical stuff. first, never borrow money from a guy named lefty. [laughter] second, when next march rolls
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around and you are in your new jobs, don't ask your bossesf they want to go to cancun for spring break. [laughter] third, be really careful with "reply to all." [laughter] [applause] fourth, if you find yourself in las vegas in a wedding chapel marrying someone you met an hour before, think twice. [laughter] fifth, just in case the mayan calendar is right about the world ending in december, wait until january to start paying back your loans. [applause]
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sixth, when filling out your profile on eharmony.com -- [laughter] never good to list your life goal as "moving out of your parents' basement when you are 40." [laughter] when you are partying tonight -- [applause] enjoy parties, live it up, do things you never contemplated before. just do't put the footage on youtube. [applause] if you follow all that, you are going to win. obviously, i am not going to get out of here. carluccio will kick my you-know- what if i don't share something with you of a more serious vein. i will take a few minutes to
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live up to my obligation. a lot of your thinking about e jobs you are going into, the worlds you are going into. i'd be less than aware of what is going on if i did not stand up here and realize that a lot of you, including your parents, are asking some big and very appropriate questions about politics, our country, where we are. those of you in the veterinary science department are maybe saying what the hell am i going to do with this? [laughter] i want everybody to step back a minute, particularly the graduating class. take a minute just to think about the revolution in ourwn country in america, which began when, i think, your parents
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were kids. it was barely visible 26 years ago when i came to the senate, but which you have seen play out between entering high school and now graduating college. it is a literally a revolution in the way we get information and communicate with each other, and it has changed every aspect of our life, but particularlyur politics. it is a revolution that nobody except perhaps steve jobs and the people i remember from college who trudged around with reams of green computer paper under their arms and we wondered what that was all about -- they are the only ones who could have envisioned where we are today. what began as a department of defense experiment for conditions in the event of a nuclear war has become the internet.
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50 years ago, before congress passed a law to break up the monopoly, there was literally only one phone company in america. if you wanted to keep in touch with someone far away, generally, you had to write one of tho things called a letter. long distance calls were really expensive. you could walk around with your phone only as far as the cord allowed you to. [laughter] at most, making a phone call was the only thing that a telephone was capable of doing. now we are walking around with mini-computers. they connect not just videos and voice. they connect each of us around the world and unbelievable amounts of information we have to process. who could have imagined a year
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ago this spring, tens of thousands of young people your age, millions of miles away, in various parts of the world, whether it was china or egypt, would put down their books, leave their cafes, and pour intoahrir square, and using instagram and facebook, share with the world a real-time view of how you carry out an entire revolution. the news media jumped to call it the twitter revolution. but the truth is that the technology revolution gave us smartphones, but it did not just come out of the data chip. it came from a lot of people's creative spirit. the revolution in the middle east did not just come from someone's smartphone. it also came from someone's spirit. it reflected people's, particularly a generation's,
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deepest aspirations. average people, everyday people with extraordinary aspirations. it was a fruit vendor in nisia, illiterate, uneducated, never had the privilege of studying at a college like mount ida, just another impoverished vendor who cannot affd his pushcart. he was tired of being pushed around by government thugs. he lit himself on fire, and with that fire he lit a revolution that is still blazing across the middle east. we don't know where it is going to end, but is the fire that began on a fundamental level because someone somewhere wanted to be like us. they wanted to be free.
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they wanted to decide things for themselves instead of being told what to do and where the limits were and how far they could go. one of the blessings of living in the modern united states of america is that for the moment, nothing is demanded of you to secure our freedom. we have grown up with that inheritance. relative to millions upon millions of people dropping the glove, we lead relatively comfortable lives. we don't have a military draft anymore. when we go to war, we are blessed with the military that makes sacrifices on our behalf, less than 1% of the nation. what is expected of the rest of us? what is expected of you after the privilege of this education and hard work of parents and
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yourself to get here? i want you to take away one thing today. the truth is that we rely on the quality of your education to make a difference my plea to you today is to use some of it, not necessarily all of it, but some of it, to be the kind of citizens who will help make this country what we want it to be. most of you will not have to leave home to nation build in afghanistan. but every single one of you can help to do a little more nation-building here at home, the same way they are doing. with all the experience and insight i can share with you, we need you now more than ever to take the moment in your lives to make sure you are living out the privilege a responsibility of just plain old-fashioned citizenship. we need you to help make
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democracy work again right here at home. you have the tools to do it. i was talking with family and friends the other night. you know how you sit at dinner sometimes and you have a debate about something and you forget, when did we do that, when did this happen? boom -- you whip out your phone and you google it and in the middle of the conversation you have the answer. we never used to be able to do that. questions used to be unresolved. now we can resolve them with facts. today, unfortunately, all the facts in the world are not going to make a difference, my friends, if they wind up getting distorted in the political shouting match where facts are ignored or made up or facts just don't matter.
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my great colleague in the united states senate, daniel patrick moynihan of new york, used to remind people that everyone is entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts. sadly today, facts are constantly being made up, being ignored, and worse, being bought and paid for by special interests who just put them out there and pretend they are real even though there is no study in the world that says they are. i'm telling you, that is our challenge. i say to you that our democracy is at risk unless we reclaim legitimate debate and accountability. remember, in the 1960's, when lance and i were in college, teenage kids and college sophomores and juniors dropped out to go and fight for these
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things. kids risked their lives, some even lost their lives, by going out on buses for the right to campaign for a bunch of americans who could fight in a war but still could not vote. here we are 50 years later, and in the last election, 2010, 60% of our citizens deded it was not even worth exercising that right to vote, if they thought about it at all. believe me, it matters. we sit here on a beautiful day, graduation, looking to the future. on monday, some of you go to work. some of you have time off to go to work. some of you will continue to look for jobs, and you will find them. but when we go to work, we will go to work in the backdrop of a growing debt, a gridlocked washington, the inability of our country to provide you with a framework to live out the dreams that you are owed.
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what amazes me about it, and what is frustrating to me, and it really is frustrating at this point, and it ought to be motivating to every single one of the -- the's noone issue in front of this country, not one, not medicare, entitlements, social security, the deficit, infrastructure, energy policy, not one issue for which there isn't actually a relatively straightforward, easily accessible, consensus solution, if we were willing to embrace it. all of them. it is not a matter -- it is lack of willpower, not lack of capacity. it may sound corny to you, but believe me, it is not. when i get up every y and the senate, it is not corny, it is real. we are still an experiment. when i travel, i have leaders of other countries say to me,
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"senator, can you guys deliver? is the united states in decline? will you live up to your promises?" i know a lot of you not long from now are going to want to invest in a company or invest in an apartment or invest in a home or invest in a retirement account, insurance policy. i am asking you to make certain that you set a standard for mount ida where you also invest in citizenship a invest in the country. we have so much to embrace in giving us a sense of why we are part of that journey. this is the state where the revolution began, the revolution for independence. it is the state where the industrial revolution began. it is the state with the
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technology revolution began. it is the state where the great efforts abolitionism and women's rights and the environment, all of these great things have always flourished, massachusetts. just think back to john adams, who had to get on a horse in the dead of winter, wrapped in blankets to stay warm, to ride from quincy all the way down to iladelphia, ride several days in the dead of winter, to work on the constitution that we live by today. 225 years later, nobody is asking you to make that kind of trek for our politics, but we need you to be willing to go to a pta meeting, to care about education, to ask questions at a town hall meeting, we need you to call in to radio or tv ow and talk common sense and put the facts on the ble. we need you to support candidates and hold a public
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sector accountable. does that sound like a tall order? not compared to what john adams did, not compared to what general washington and those troops did at valley forge when everybody thought they might be hanged before we even became an independent nation. the time that thomas paine wrote about, sunshine patriots -- we cannot afford that kind of patriotism. class of 2012, i am king you to get back to the true guts and grit that shipped this nation. -- shaped this nation. i will tell you why it is still there, and why i know it so well. my old friend john glenn, he served in the senate with me, he is a guy who went to war with the rines. then he went into space, first man in orbit of the earth. then he went to washington and
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continued to fight as a senator. he used to say something that i think is pretty relevant. "citizenship is the personnel department of the constitution. business is going well, and if it is not, you force yourself into the boardroom and take the reins." you can actually still do that in america. you can transform your sense of right and wrong into action. all you have to do is remember the words of ben franklin when he finished working on the constitution. he walked down the steps of independence hall late at night. they worked for months. people were wondering, what were we going to be as a nation? a woman walked up to him as he came down those steps, tired, and she looked at him and said, "tell us, dr. franklin, what do we have? a monarchy or republic?" he looked at her and said, "a republic, if you can keep it."
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class of 2012, you are as much a part of the obligation to keep it and to give life to th concept as any other people in this nation, and you are better equipped than most. help us keep it. our job is to do that. we are counting on you. good luck, and god bless you. [applause]
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the vietnam memorial is a living memorial. each year, people come here to honor their family and friends and those who they have never met. they leave flowers, metals, and written notes and prayers' at the base of the wall. the remembrances are the reminder that the great price of freedom is not simply edge on the blackstone of this memorial. it is etched on the hearts of those that more and the sailors, marines, and coastguardsman.
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these men, in the words of abraham lincoln, had the last devotion to their country. i want to pay tribute to the men whose names are on these walls including somebody in colorado. i also stand in honor of manuel. i remember at the age of 13 i attended his burial at a remote cemetery in colorado. i would never forget that service. it was the first time that i heard taps. the pain that his family endured. that has been the honor of the national park service to be custodian of this special place. i pledge our full support as we
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partner together to make the vietnam memorial visitors center at a reality beginning in 2012. may god bless you and may god bless the united states of america. [applause] >> thank you, secretary salazar. fellow veterans, military families cannot distinguished guests, it is a profound honor to join you on this hallowed ground on this very special day. our goldstar families dedicate this day to our loved ones who we at remember. today, i join with you to dedicate myself to the memory of my friends whose names are on this wall.
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robert, panel 27w. kenneth lancaster, panel 23. there is a poem was written in vietnam on new year's day, 1970. it if you are able, and save them a place in outside of view. save all one one -- save one or glance what you are leaving. do not be ashamed to say that you love them. take what they have left and w havehat argue with their dying and keep it in your own. at a time when people feel safe enough to call a war and saying, take the time to embrace
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those heroes that you left behind. that poem was written by michael davis o'donnell. shortly after he wrote that poem he was, killed in action. major o'donnell has his place on this wall. panel 12w, line 40. for many years, representatives have traditionally laid leaves at the vietnam veterans memorial in honor of their fallen brothers, fathers and daughters, who gave the last full measure of devotion to the mayor, and the cause of my.
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will the representatives of the following organizations come forward as you are recognized? we will observe a moment of silence.
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>> the vietnam women's memorial foundation, the gold star mothers in corp., a goldstar wives of america military order of the purple heart, a vietnam veterans of america, associates of vietnam veterans of america. sons and daughters in touch, national league of m.i.a., a pow families. veterans of foreign wars of the u.s. and disabled american veterans and vets. the american legion. ladies auxiliary to the foreign wars of the united states, operation freedom birds, the veterans advisory board.
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rolling thunder, washington d.c., the ptsd class, and the washington veterans administration center.
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♪ ♪
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♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ [applause] >> the military has a chain of command. that is the top of the chain, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. before we start, we have a very special guest. i am sure you know who he is. we want to ask everybody to stand who has ever served in the united states air force and say hooha. we will ask the next branch of
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the service, which is the united states navy. we will ask you to stand and say hooha. is there and a coast guard out there? there has got to be. [applause] sounds like propeller is. it is good. how many of you have served in the united states army? it is unbelievable. i am just curious, did i leave any branch of the service out? united states marine corps. ok. at this time, tom selleck will be introducing to you our next speaker.
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>> ladies and gentlemen, please welcome a great leader and warrior. general martin dempsey. [applause] >> thanks, tom. thank you for your heartfelt words and your service in the army national guard. as we gather here at the vietnam veterans memorial, our veterans are gathering at cemeteries across the country. soldiers of the third infantry division and the honor guards of every service are on patrol making sure that 260,000 flags stand tall. row after row after row.
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at white pines cemetery a single window presses a flight into the ground just like she did last year and the year before that. whether by the thousands or by ourselves, we all feel a common resolve on memorial day to pause, if only for a moment, and remember. decoration day was proclaimed by the commander of the army of the republic. since our republic's founding. 2.5 million of our countrymen and women have made their breasts barricade between our
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country and their foes. some of those names are blasted into this wall. a wall and a war that some have compared to a scars his. 3's temperance allows us to see failure where it -- and success were some only saw failure and saw valor were some refuse to let. vietnam, its veterans, and their families are not something apart from us. they are as fundamental to our national story and instrumental to our national security as any veteran of any war. the war'its 50th anniversary gives us an opportunity to remember and reflect on its story. the military family will join with the rest of the american family to learn and see ourselves with a renewed perspective. right now, we can see the names of too many on the wall before us.
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ande are america's son daughters. today, their sons, their daughters, and even their grandchildren follow them into the service. my first personal memory of war was in 1968. i watch a vietnam veteran get off the bus his first tour of duty in vietnam. at a time of our history when heroes were hard to find, i thought that i had found one. i never saw anybody so handsome, physical, it determined, proud. captain john gramm was his name. he was a big part of the reason i went to west point. in 1971, he was returned from his second tour of duty, having been killed in action as an adviser to the vietnamese army.
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i attended the ceremony on a very cold day in the winter are 1971. his son is now on the faculty at west point. officer roy thomas was a gunship pilot with the 24th infantry division. he died in battle when his son was 4 months old. his son is an air force colonel on my staff today. they are just two representatives of thousands more who share a bond with their forbearers. whether they served in vietnam, iraq, afghanistan, whether they return home are are still awaiting their homecoming, there is no difference in their courage or sense of duty. there is no difference when it comes to fear or suffering on the front lines and on the home front. there is no difference in the love and the longing of
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families. there is no difference in the ones that remain both seen and unseen. let us resolve that there will be one essential difference that we will never allow our veterans or their families to be left alone. left to fend for themselves. let us resolve not just to say welcome home, but to truly -- [applause] bought us resolve today not just to say welcome home, but to truly welcome our troops home with the respect and care that they and their families have earned. such resolve is evident in those who join us today and those who gathered to support this memorial.
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we can see it in our president, first lady, and secretary of defense. i note that the secretary shares the commitment to keep faith with our military family and keep in touch with our military family. he shares my unbounded pride with those who have served in uniform. please welcome leon panetta. [applause] >> thank you very much. ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests, america's veterans, i am honored to be here today with all of you as we commemoration of the 50th anniversary of america's participation in the vietnam war. memorial day is an appropriate opportunity for all americans to come together, tribunepay all of those who have fought and died for our country are across
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more than 200 years and battlefields near and far. haveons and daughters sacrificed in the name of liberty to give us all a better life. at this hour, at this hallowed and haunting memorial, we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the vietnam war. a war that occupies a central place in the american story. millions of amercians were sen acrosst the pacific to a little no place to fight in service of a country that they loved. not only in this hour, but at
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all times, we remember and carry in our hearts, more than 58,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, coastguardsman, whose names are inscribed on this dark wall for eternity. for me personally, this is especially moving moment. i have the honor to work on the endowment of this memorial. to see the names of jurors that i served with inscribed on this wall. officers that went with rotc with me. to know my class mate who served in this war.
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no memorial better reflects the pain and the sacrifices that were made. many more came home. came home from that war to a country that failed to fully acknowledge their courage and sacrifice and give them the honor that they deserved. that experience, that failure to thank those that were willing to put their lives on the line for
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this country was burned into the soul of my generation. for too many vietnam veterans, the recognition of their bravery came too late. the vietnam generation, my generation, is graying now. commemorationsthis effort gives the country an opportunity today and the days ahead to try to right the wrongs of the past. to remember those who served in this war and what they did for us. their service and sacrifice on our behalf. i had the opportunity to join the president in paying tribute to a fallen member of that generation. a specialist to posthumously receive the medal of honor. he died in vietnam saving his brothers in arms. edgardo same brothers from that 101st airborne division that campaign to reopen the medal of
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honor process more than 10 years ago. a story of les is in many ways the story of the vietnam war. we forgot and now i finally remembered. i will have the opportunity to travel to vietnam and continue strengthening the ties that our countries are re-establishing since 1995. we have come a long way since the war has ended. it was the veterans of vietnam who led the way for the two nations to try to heal the wounds of war. they are trying to identify and locate the remains of fallen
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service members missing in action in vietnam. let me assure you that the sacred mission will continue until all of our troops come home turf and are accounted for. -- home and are accounted for. [applause] it reflects the determination of our country that no men or women are left behind. it honors those with their service, their valor, and their sacrifice. during the last decade of war, like past generations of for years, another generation has answered the call to fight with sacrifice on foreign soil. they have done all that this country has asked them to do and more.
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as they have returned from overseas, america with her vietnam's front and center in the effort have embraced this new credits generation of service members, showing that we have learned perhaps the most important lesson to come out of the vietnam war. [applause] the debt we owe to those who fought and died for our freedoms. the president and mrs. obama have done so much to encourage americans to do more to recognize and support these great patriots. they have led the fight for the men and women who fought for our nation. as this nation faces tough economic times, we must do everything we can to ease the transition for the thousands of
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service members who will come home from war. they fought for us. the least we can do is fight for them. [applause] it is now my honor to introduce one of those soldiers. who fought in vietnam, senator chuck hagel. he led an and for sure squad in vietnam following the tet offensive. like millions in card debt -- a generation, he demonstrated heroism on the battlefield. he also demonstrated that patriotism, bravery, and heroism in public service that is followed.
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we thank you for honoring us with your presence today. thank you for your commitment to the united states of america. god bless you. [applause] >> leon, thank you. i am honored to be among you today. i am grateful for an opportunity to say a few words or i introduce our special guest this afternoon. this uniquely american day, memorial day, was born at more than 40 years ago -- 140 years ago, after america's civil war. the war that tore at the heart and fabric of our republic. it produced a simple and elegant memorial that watches over us today. it reflects the images of the future as it records the names of the past. memorials are built for the living in order to instruct our
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destiny as they honor and remember those who fell in the service of their country. memorials for construct a loss of the powerful responsibility of our nation'a stewart's to make sacrifices were the. war is not an abstraction, it is brutal. there is always the haunting portents of unintended consequences, and controls and unpredictable. america has always found service to their country. i often think about the quiet heroes that my brother and i served in vietnam in 1968. i am proud that my brother is sitting here in the front row. thank you. [applause] i never knew nor served with a better soldier or or mandan my brother tom. these quiet heroes who we
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fought with winter juggles with and sometimes helplessly watched die always considered ourselves ordinary people. they view themselves as ordinary because they were humble, patriotic, and selfless. they never asked for or expected anything in return for their service other than respect and dignity. tragically, what they received upon return from a confused nation was neither. they were blamed for what consumed america for so many years. the vietnam veterans memorial mean so many things to so many people. not only is there deep meeting in connection to the wall, so it is with all americans in all generations. there is a responsibility and honor to assist returning veterans from the wars of the last 20 years, assuring that
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the returning veterans have productively integrated back into society with the recognition be fitting a great nation. as we have painfully learned the tragic lessons from vietnam, society must always separate the war from the warrior. we do not celebrate the vietnam war. we commemorate and historically recognized it. the vietnam memorial is groundbreaking on the very sight in 1982. there is no glory in war, only suffering. life is always more about the people than the event. events are state is upon which individuals change the world. we celebrate those individuals that change the country for the better. the veterans and their families. we also recognize those of you who are assisting military families today like the first lady michelle obama and dr. jill biden. the care
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tour of the nation always is shown in who chooses to be its leaders. on behalf of this beautifully created in dog land, out here to speak for all of us on this day when we are all americans is the leader of our country, the 41st president of the united states, barack obama. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, please rise for the guest of honor and remain standing. ♪
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the president of the united states, barack obama. first lady michelle obama, a vice president biden and dr. biden. ♪ [hail to the chief playing] [applause] ♪
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♪ >> ♪ [star stangled banner playing] ♪
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♪ [star spangled banner playing] ♪ >> right shoulder, arm.
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>> please be seated.
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american advisers have served >> good afternoon, everybody. chuck, thank you for your words and your friendship and your life of service. veterans of the vietnam war, families, friends, distinguished guests, i know it is hot. but you are here to honor your loved ones and michele and i could not be more honored to be here with you. it speaks to the complexity of america's time in vietnam that even now, historians cannot agree on precisely when the war
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began. american advisers have served there and died there as early as the mid-50s. major combat operations would not begin until the mid-60s. but if any year illustrated the changing nature of our involvement, it was 1962. it was january in saigon. army pilots strap on their helmets and boarded their helicopters. they lifted off, raced over treetops carrying south vietnamese troops. it was a single raid against an enemy stronghold. just a few miles into the jungle, but it was one of america's first major operations in that faraway land. 50 years later, we come to this wall, to this sacred place to
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remember. we can step toward its granite wall and reach out and touch and name. today is memorial day, when we recall all of those who gave everything in the darkness of war so we can stand here in the glory of spring. today begins the 50th commemoration of our war in vietnam. we honor each of those names etched in stone. 58,282 american patriots, we salute all his serve with some and we stand with the families who love them still.
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for years, you have come here to be with them once more. in the simple things you have left behind your offerings, your mementos, your guests. we get a glimpse of the lives they live. the blankets that covered them as a baby, the baseball that he swung as a boy. a wedding ring, a photograph of the grandchild he never met, the boots he wore, still caked in mud. the metals she earned, still shining.
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of course, some of the things left here of special meanings only to the veterans. a can of beer and a packet of m&m's, a container of spam, an old field ration, still good, still awful. it is here that we feel the depth of your sacrifices and here we see a piece of a larger american story. our founders, and in their genius, gave us the task. they set out to make a more perfect union and challenge every generation to keep on network and keep moving ford to overcome a sometimes painful past to keep striving for ideals. one of the most painful chapters of our history was vietnam. most particularly how we
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treated our troops who served there. you are often blamed for a war you didn't start when you should have been commended for serving your country with dollar. you are sometimes blamed for the misdeeds of a few. [applause] when the hon. service of the many should have been praised. you came home and were sometimes denigrated when you should have been celebrated. it was a national shame. a disgrace that should have never happened.
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that is why here, today, we resolve that will not happen again. [applause] a central part of this 50th anniversary will be to tell your story as it should have been told all along, another chance to set the record straight. that is one more way we keep perfecting our union, setting the record straight, and it starts today. history will honor your service. your name is will join a story of service that stretches back to centuries. let us tell the story of the generation of service members who served with just as much patriotism and honor as any before you. let's never forget that most of those who serve in vietnam did so by choice.
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so many of you volunteered. your country was at war and you said "send me." that includes our women in vietnam. everyone of you a volunteer. [applause] those who were drafted, they went and carried their burden. you served, you do your duty. he persevered through some of the most brutal conditions ever faced by americans in war. the suffocating heat, the drenching monsoon rains, an enemy that would come out of nowhere in vanished just as quickly. some of the most intense urban combat in history and a battle for a single elected of wage and for weeks.
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let it be said that in hellholes like the briar patch and hanoi hilton, are vietnam prisoners of war did not just in door, you wrote some of the most extraordinary stories of bravery in the annals of military history. [applause] as a nation, we long celebrated the courage of our forces at normandy, iwo jima, heartbreak ridge. let us also speak of your courage in saigon, from hamburger hill to rolling thunder. all too often, it is forgotten
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that you, our troops in vietnam won every major battle you fought in. [applause] when you came home, i know many of you put your medals away and cut them in a drawer or a box in the closet. he went on with your lives, started families and pursue careers. a lot of you did not talk too much about your service. as a consequence, this nation has not always fully appreciated this chapter of your lives that came next. let us also tell the story of a generation that came home and how even though some americans turn their back on you, you never turn your back on america. [applause]
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like generations before you, you took off the uniform, but he never stopped serving. you became teachers, police officers, nurses, folks we count on every single day. you became entrepreneurs running companies and pioneering industries that change the world. he became leaders and public servants from town halls to capitol hill, lifting up our communities, are states, our nation. you reminded us what it was like to serve and what it meant to serve. those of you who stayed in uniform rows into the ranks and became leaders in every service, learn from your experience in vietnam, and rebuilt our military into the finest forced the world has ever known. [applause]
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let's remember all those vietnam veterans who came back and serve again in the wars in iraq and afghanistan. you did not stop serving. [applause] even as you succeeded in all of these endeavors, you did something more. maybe the most important thing you did, you look after each other. your government didn't live up to its responsibilities and you spoke out, fighting for the care and benefits you would earn and over time, transforming the va. of course, one of these vietnam veterans is now our outstanding secretary of veterans affairs. [applause]
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you looked after while another, you cared for one another, people were not always talking about ptsd at the time. you were there for each other and just as importantly, you didn't just take care of your own, you cared for those that followed. you made your mission to make sure today's troops get the respect and support that all too often you did not receive. [applause] because of view, because are vietnam veterans lead charge, the post-9/11 gi bill is helping thousands of veterans go to college and pursue their dreams. [applause] because you did not let us forget, our airports are returning troops who get off the airplane and you are there to shake their hands. [applause]
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because of view, across america, communities have welcomed home our forces from iraq and what our troops return from afghanistan, america will give this entire 9/11 generation the return they deserve in part because of you. this is the story of our vietnam service members, a story that needs to be told. this is what this 50th anniversary is all about. another opportunity to say to are vietnam veterans what we should have been saying from the beginning. you do your job. you served with honor. he made us proud.
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you came home and helped build the america we love and cherish. here today, it must be said that you earn your place among the greatest generations. this time, i would ask all are vietnam veterans, those of you who can stand, those of you already standing, raise your hands, as we say those simple words which always greet our troops when they come home -- welcome home. welcome home. welcome home. thank you. [applause] we appreciate you. welcome home. [applause] today, we are calling on all
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americans in every segment of our society to join this effort. everybody can do something. five decades removed from a time of division among americans, this day can remind us of what we share as americans. that includes honoring vietnam veterans by never forgetting the lessons of that war. let us resolve that one america sends our sons and daughters into harm's way, we will always give them a clear mission and always give them a sound strategy. we will give them the equipment
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they need to get the job done. we will have their backs. [applause] we will resolve that leaders will be candid about the risks and about progress and have a plan to bring our troops home with honor. let us resolve to never forget the cost of war, including the terrible loss of innocent civilians. not just in vietnam, but in all wars. we know your sacrifice and service is the very definition of glory. but war itself is not glorious. we hate war. when we fight, we do so to protect ourselves because it is necessary. let's resolve that in our democracy, we can debate and disagree even in a time of war. but let us never use patriotism as a political sword. patriots can support a war or oppose award. let us always stand united in support of our troops who week placed in harm's way. that is our solemn obligation. [applause]
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let's resolve to take care of our veterans as well as they have taken care of us. not just talk, but action. not just in the first five years after a war, but the first five decades. for vietnam veterans, this means disability benefits for diseases connected to agent orange. it means job opportunities and health-care to help you stand tall again. it means ending the tragedy of veterans homelessness, that every veteran should have a home in america. he should not have to fight for a roof over your head when he fought on behalf of the country you love. [applause] when an american does not come back, including the 1666
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americans still missing from the vietnam war, let us resolve to do everything in our power to bring them home. this is our solemn promise to mothers like this who join us today -- a 93-year-old who has honored her son, missing in action for 42 years. there she is. thank you for your courage. god bless you. [applause] there is a promise we are falling day to a family from
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arkansas. 43 years after he went missing, we can announce that the army captain, virgil maloney, is coming home, and can finally rest in peace. [applause] some have called this war a scar on our country, but here is what i say. as anyone heels, the tissue around it becomes tougher and stronger than before. in this sense, and finally, we might begin to see the true legacy of vietnam. because of vietnam and our veterans, we use american power smarter, we honor our military more and we take care are veterans better. because of the hard work in
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vietnam, because of you, america is stronger than before. [applause] finally, on this anniversary, and all the years to come, let us remember what binds us as one people. this is important for all of us, whether you fought in the vietnam war or fought against it or whether you were too young to be shaped by it. it is important that our children understand the sacrifices that were made by our troops in vietnam. for them, it's more than just a name in the history books. it is important we know of the lesson of a gift will once left at this memorial. it was toward the end of the day and most tourists and visitors had departed. there it was, a football helmet black, with white stripes, and a wrist band.
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with them was a handwritten note from a young man still in high school. this was more than two decades after vietnam. that high school student was born years after the war had already ended. but in that short, handwritten note, he captured the reverence, the bond between generations that bring us here today. the letter began -- "dear vietnam veterans, here are two things from me to you that i think you should have." he explained it was his helmet from midget football and his wrist band from his senior year. today, i want to close with the words he wrote. in these two pieces of equipment, i was allowed to make mistakes, correct them, grow, and mature as a person. however, that was on my
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battlefield. you did not get the chance to do that and your battlefield. some of you were forced to grow up too fast. all he died too soon. we do have many things in common. we both have pride, heart, and determination. i am just sorry you guys had to learn those qualities too fast. that is why i am giving you what i grew up with. you are true heroes and you will never be forgotten. that's from high-school kid born decades after the end of the war. that captures the spirit of this entire country that we should embrace. veterans, families of the

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