Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention

U.S. Department of Defense Speeches, July 22, 2013 | Go to article overview

Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention


Good morning! Commander Hamilton, thank you and thanks to all of your officers and leaders of the VFW. I'm not only grateful for the introduction but what you do for this institution, for our country, for our families, and for our active duty military and their families. I'd like to also congratulate Bill Thien and Mrs. Thien and wish them every success as he takes over as the new incoming Commander of the VFW.

As the Ladies Auxiliary to the VFW nears its 100th anniversary, I want to thank National President Leanne Lemley and the Auxiliary members for the work you all do to honor our veterans and their families. And also congratulations to Sissy Borel for following in Leanne's footsteps as the National President.

It is a privilege to be with all of you here in Louisville. This is a remarkable convention--a convention that always has an impact on our country and on our leaders. And I also want to acknowledge the fact that as you all know, it wouldn't be possible without the hard work of your executive director. My longtime friend Bob Wallace and his entire team here and also to Mrs. Wallace for enduing living with you Bob.

So to all of the team and the organization, thank you, and to the city of Louisville for their always extraordinary hospitality, we thank you.

I bring you greetings from your commander-in-chief, President Obama, who asked me to thank you and to extend his greetings and let you know that he is aware of the work that you do on behalf of our veterans and their families, as well as our active duty military and their families.

As you all know, this week is the 60th anniversary of the armistice that ended the Korean War. So I'd like to begin my remarks this morning by asking our Korean War veterans with us today to rise.

If we could once again acknowledge our Korean War veterans here with us this morning.

Thank you for your extraordinary service.

The upcoming observance of the 60th anniversary is an opportunity for this country to fully express its profound gratitude for your service and your sacrifices and the contributions you've made.

Later this week I will join President Obama and Secretary Shinseki, who I know will be with you tomorrow, and we will take part in a special ceremony honoring our Korean War veterans in Washington DC.

The Korean War veterans here today, and all those across the country, should know that your fellow citizens are proud of what you accomplished, and what your generation has contributed to our security and our prosperity here in this country, and certainly in Asia.

I grew up in little towns in Nebraska where life revolved around the VFW and American Legion clubs. As Commander Hamilton mentioned, I am a proud life member of VFW Post 3704 in Columbus, Nebraska. My father, a World War II veteran of the South Pacific, who would be 90 years old today, was an active VFW member, as is my brother Tom, who Commander Hamilton noted, served with me in Vietnam. I've been a member for 45 years, since I returned home from Vietnam in December 1968. To my home state commander wherever you are out there, Harold Schlender, and Donna Fenske, President of the State VFW Auxiliary, and all my fellow Nebraskans who are here today--thank you for your support and good work and we're very proud of what you do in Nebraska.

And of course at this point I'm obliged to say, "Go Huskers!"

Thank you.

Forgive that parochial comment. I know that, now that we've joined the Big Ten, all you Ohio State, Michigan people question that. But I do have the microphone. Thank you for all your service to my friends in Nebraska.

It's often said that no one does more for veterans than VFW. You're also a great friend to those who wear the uniform today. In my first couple of weeks in this office, as Commander Hamilton noted, I convened a roundtable with the VFW and other veterans organizations to let them know they had a strong supporter and a friend at the Pentagon. …

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