Fighting for freedom is theme of speech given by retired Navy officerRecently retired U.S. Navy officer and aviator Charles Altman gave the Veterans Day address during the annual ceremonies in front of the St. Croix County Government Center Thursday, Nov. 11. Here are some excerpts from his speech, which appears in full in this week's print edition:
By Cmdr. Charles Altman USN (ret.)
"In a celebrity-obsessed culture where shows like “Dancing with the Stars” and “Survivor” generate large followings, it is important to remember just who the real stars of America are.
The real star is the U.S. soldier who is sent to disarm a bomb next to the road north of Baghdad, and is killed trying to do his duty when the bomb explodes. A real star is the Navy Seal who sits in the rain by day and sleeps in a tent by night living in the towns of Afghanistan assisting villagers in repelling the Taliban.
Veterans Day is a time to honor these heroes as well as all of the outstanding men and women who served in our nation’s Armed Forces since our founding more than 234 years ago.
During this entire time period Americans have continued to serve. But why do Americans serve?
Ask a service member in Afghanistan what they’re doing in the Armed Forces, and they’ll tell you… They’re fighting for freedom…your freedom …my freedom.
Especially the freedom of the people in that part of the world. They have so very little freedom. Preserving what they have is essential.
American service members don’t think of this as some kind of noble dream. To our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines it’s a practical reality. They stand with people whose lives and freedoms are repressed by evil dictators, petty despots and terrorists every day. All for the cause of freedom!
I was asked to speak to you today briefly about my experiences in the conflicts of my generation and naval service. Although each was experienced in different parts of the world for different political rationales, from my, the service member’s perspective, our involvement was always for fulfillment of the same purpose…to preserve or reinstate basic freedoms.
"... According to recent U.S. Army statistics, more than 665,000 active-duty soldiers have deployed for a year of combat in the Global War on Terrorism and nearly 300,000 active-duty soldiers have deployed twice or more. The Department of Defense recently estimated that nearly 40,000 U.S. service personnel have been wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan since hostilities began.
In spite of the sacrifices that nearly all veterans have made and the horrors that some have experienced, the overwhelming majority are proud to have served.
"...Terrorism and those that would use it have no place in this world. They must be met, head on and defeated for freedom to prevail.
Fortunately, for all of us, America has been blessed throughout its history by many such men and women willing to sacrifice for basic freedoms wherever required in the world.
In closing, I am proud to now be living in Hudson.
"... It has been an honor to serve our nation for these many years. And, it is a true pleasure to now be living in America’s heartland amongst all of you and equally as enjoyable to address you today!
Thank you for being here, God bless St Croix County, God Bless America and God Bless our veterans."