Governor Deval Patrick
Veterans Day Ceremony Remarks
Memorial Hall, State House
Friday, November 11, 2011

I want to acknowledge their exceptional leader in Secretary Nee, thank you for your service.

To the Lieutenant Governor and all of the dignitaries, to special guests one and all who are here most especially the families I want to warmly welcome you to the State House, this is your house, and it is fitting that we gather here together today to acknowledge the extraordinary example of sacrifice and citizenship that the members of our military have shown throughout the ages. A warm and special welcome to all of our servicemen and women who are with us here today and a special acknowledgement of all of those that can’t be here today. To the thousands of Massachusetts’ military personnel currently protecting our interests abroad, I want to like to express our gratitude, our pride, and our enduring support.

I also want to recognize three members of the Massachusetts State Legislature who are deployed right now:  Army Reserve JAG Officer Major Jerry Parisella, Army Captain and JAG Officer Hank Naughton, and United States Navy Lieutenant Michael Rush: we thank them for their service and we look forward to their safe return.

Last year, I had the privilege of spending a little time with our servicemen and women abroad in Iraq, Kuwait, and in Afghanistan.  While I was there, I was honored to meet a young man by the name of Andrew Wilkinson.  Andrew had deployed in February last year and, because of the timing of his service, he had never met his then five-month-old daughter.  He showed me pictures of his gorgeous little girl with all the pride that a new father would have and I was struck by another dimension of the sacrifice that our young men and women make when they sign up to serve and place themselves in harm’s way for us. Indeed, I met Andrew’s daughter before he did when I returned from that trip and it was incredibly meaningful for me to be able to take a picture with her and email it to Andrew just to help close that loop.  

We recognize that stories like Andrew’s are not uncommon.  And we understand the burden that you, our servicemen and women, bear for the sake of others.  Whether it’s sacrificing the comfort of sleeping in your own bed at night; sacrificing the peace of mind that comes from driving through your own neighborhood instead of a red zone; or sacrificing your own personal safety for the liberties and freedoms that we hold dear; we are blessed that those who do step forward.

We, the beneficiaries of this great range of sacrifices are endlessly grateful.  And we are proud to live in a nation that’s protected by the likes of you. Today is a time of special remembrance, but as the Secretary said our job is to remember every day sacrifice that our servicemen and women and their families make and to honor that sacrifice by serving ourselves for them and through them and helping to support them when they come home.

I’m proud of the work that the Lieutenant Governor and the Secretary and his staff and all of our team so many here do to honor and respect the service and example of those who have served us and it gives me enormous pleasure and pride and humility to be in your company.

I thank you all for coming and it’s my pleasure now to bring to the podium the Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray.