The Vice President of the United States visited my duty station today (6 Jan 06) and spoke to a gym full of service members, Department of Defense civilians and family members. His purpose in visiting was to thank the members of the armed forces and their families for their sacrifices and accomplishments in the war on terrorism. The nation owes a debt of gratefulness to its uniformed service members, and when the Vice President speaks in this capacity, he’s speaking on behalf of the people of the United States. On behalf of all of you, I accept the Vice President’s words of gratitude and pass them along to the rest of the military community.
Some of the Vice President’s speech dealt with the administration’s position on various issues associated with national defense. If you want news or opinions about that part of his speech, you’ll have to look elsewhere – with one exception. Near the beginning of his speech, the vice-president said, “The war on terror is a battle for the future of civilization; it’s a battle worth fighting — it’s a battle we are going to win.” This drew the loudest applause from those assembled (including me). He commented on the national commitment to confront the violent, defend the innocent and bring freedom to the oppressed. Those are among the reasons that I wear this uniform.
The Vice President closed the ceremony by re-enlisting five Soldiers and presenting five Combat Action Badges. One of those receiving the award was Chuck O’Brien. Chuck and I served together in the 3d Infantry Division and Chuck attended the same church that my family attended in Hinesville. Chuck and his wife helped lead the church’s youth group that was so important in my son’s spiritual growth and nurture. Congratulations to all those recognized today.
As flattering as it is to get a visit from the Vice President, I’ve always considered the personal words of thanks from ordinary Americans to be even more important. When a church member or leader says thanks to its members in uniform, that’s even more terrific. I value words of gratitude; I even value the little pieces of ribbon on my dress uniform that express appreciation for what I’ve done. In the end, though, it’s my Lord whose approval is most important. As I serve in this uniform, I must remain faithful to him and to his intent for my life. Someday, I hope to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant” from someone even more important than the Vice President of the United States.