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Today we gather to honor the women and men who have given the highest service any American can offer this country.

Today we honor the brave souls who have fought for our freedom and our security in war - - so that we could enjoy these blessings in peace.

It has long been said - - and rightfully so - - that freedom is not free. Nothing so great could ever come without cost. There is indeed a price to be paid in order for us to live as we do - - and those we commemorate today bore the burden, so that we did not have to. The magnitude of that gift can never be forgotten, nor should ever be taken for granted by its beneficiaries.

Therefore, on this site of solemn remembrance, and at gravesides all across this great land - - let us join together in expressing appreciation for the service and sacrifice our veterans have given - - and let us do so, mindful that we have incurred a debt that can never be repaid.

The only thing we can do which approaches recompense is to live our lives with honor, with love and with a commitment to make our communities and our nation a model of its founding ideals. That way we build upon the sacrifices of the fallen - - and never demean them through ignorance or apathy.

Military service is a noble calling - - and those who answer it are truly a breed apart. They are the ones who actually step into the arena, come what may.

For them, there is the pride of developing one's character and becoming a leader, serving a cause far greater than self - - and knowing that they are keeping a shining light of liberty ablaze in our world.

Every man and woman who wears America's uniform is part of a long, unbroken line of achievement and honor - - especially the ones who lay here. Many of whom served in segregated units, but fought for what they knew America would one day become. Theirs is a legacy to be proud of - - because they did not serve in vain.

Now, to honor them, and all our veterans, we must keep the promises we made to them. We must care for those who have been injured in the service of our country. We must honor and remember those who have died. And we must find answers for the families of those whose fate is still undetermined.

Despite our best efforts, our words on Veterans Day can never truly do justice to the sacrifices made by our veterans - - by those who returned and those who did not; by those who live among us today and those who live only in our memories.

But may we never stop trying.

As I close, I do by simply repeating to our brave veterans the sentiment engraved in the medals awarded during World War I - - A grateful nation remembers.

Thank you very much.

Last updated: 3/28/2012 8:46:16 AM