Cheney Remembers Veterans at Arlington Cemetery
By Melinda L. Larson
American Forces Press Service
ARLINGTON, Va., Nov. 11, 2007 Vice President Richard B. Cheney today remembered millions of veterans at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month at Arlington National Cemetery.
Navy veteran Neil Koski, a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Honor Guard, pulls on his gloves prior to the Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery on Nov. 11, 2007. Koski and other members of the honor guard passed out programs prior to the ceremony. Photo by Melinda L. Larson
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
“More than 20 million of our fellow citizens bear the distinction of veteran,” Vice President Richard B. Cheney said. “Each has his or her own story. But whether duty found them at home or abroad, in wartime or peacetime, they all share the pride of having served. And they have in common the memory of taking an oath and becoming part of something much larger than themselves.”
Cheney delivered the ceremony’s principal address to some 4,000 people at Arlington National Cemetery’s Memorial Amphitheater just minutes after he laid a wreath at the nearby Tomb of the Unknowns. Cheney applauded the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, which provides the honor guard for the Tomb of the Unknowns.
“Also called the Old Guard, the 3rd Infantry is on watch here 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, regardless of the weather,” Cheney noted. “And they meet the same standards of precision and polish in the deep of night as they do at high noon. I thank the members of the Old Guard for upholding a proud American tradition with the greatest of skill and the utmost dignity.”
While the Old Guard tends to Arlington every day of the year, dozens of veterans served as color guards on their special day to honor their fallen comrades.
“We’re honoring the sacrifice of the veterans who wrote a blank check to their country. It’s an honor to memorialize their service,” said retired Navy Capt. Russell Vowinkel, who carried an American flag during the presentation of colors for the Military Order of the World Wars.
Cheney said he is more aware of the nation’s debt to members of the armed forces and their families during this time of war.
“They are constantly in our thoughts,” Cheney said. “Our gratitude extends to their loved ones, because military service is often a family commitment, and they, too, are giving up a lot for the good of our whole nation.”
A mother in attendance whose son, U.S. Marine Corps Pfc. Bruce W. Carter, was killed in Vietnam in 1969, works to make sure the country remembers her loss and the loss of countless other mothers.
“We keep their names alive. We won’t forget them, and we won’t let anyone else forget them,” said Georgie Carter Krell, a past national president of American Gold Star Mothers, an organization for mothers who have lost sons or daughters in the service of their country.
Veterans who have returned to their communities never seem to lose the desire to serve their country, Cheney said.
“Anywhere you go in America, you find that veterans are the backbone of their communities –- always making a contribution, pitching in, providing leadership, and setting a good example for the young,” he said.
Cheney made it clear that the nation owes its freedom to the men and women who have served their country. “They have kept us free in the land we call home –- free to live as we see fit, free to work and worship and speak our minds and choose our own leaders. All of this we owe to the men and women who have taken that oath to defend America, and may the rest of us never take them for granted.”
The “Honoring All Who Served” Veterans Day ceremony ended with the audience joining the U.S. Army Band in a rendition of “God Bless America.”
Veterans Day was first celebrated in the United States in 1919, to honor those who served in World War I. It was then called Armistice Day, marking the truce that ended the war on Nov. 11, 1918.