One of my prouder moments in the Army happened in the fall of 2009 on my way back to join my unit fighting Afghanistan. I was able to stop by Walter Reed Medical Center to pin Bronze Stars on two of my soldiers, Sergeants Holliman and Schumacher. These men lost limbs from an ambush and their unit rushed into harm's way to save their lives. That day at Walter Reed, they showed me bravery, spirit and perseverance on a scale I had not witnessed before. As I spoke during the ceremony choking back tears of pride and love, I highlighted how these two selfless men did not lose limbs, rather, gave them to their country in its defense. I'm proud to have worn the same uniform, served with them in harm’s way and call myself their commander. I'll always be inspired by their service and love for one another, a love only warriors understand.
I'm proud to call myself a veteran and proud of my country's support of us. As you thank veterans this Veteran's Day, pay a special tribute to the veterans of the Vietnam War. They did not come home to a supportive country and I consider that a national shame. I have always told the veterans of Vietnam we, the veterans of today's wars stand on their shoulders. Thank you to my Vietnam Veteran Fathers from a grateful nation. As we honor those who have worn our nation's uniform and served in harm's way let us not for one second forget their spouses. These military spouses or as I call them "national treasures," endured the horrors of saying goodbye for what might have been the last time, took care of the home and the children and worried constantly about our safety. I would not have succeeded without my wife Leslie who not only worried for me, cared for our children but also cared for our unit and its families. Her volunteer service, like so many other spouses deserves equal recognition and praise. Lastly, let us never forget the fallen. We veterans know them as the true heroes of our wars. They paid the ultimate sacrifice in the name of freedom so that our world may someday be at peace. For some reason, each day I make coffee I think of the men I lost in combat. It's a strange ritual but I guess it's my way of never forgetting them. No one wishes the end of war more than a veteran. General Robert E. Lee famously said, "It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it." My hope along with all those who I served with is that our contribution may bring us closer to peace, so that our sons and daughters need not fight. Thank you, my fellow veterans, and your loving spouses. Happy Veteran's Day. God Bless America!