In March 1865, with the Nation still fighting a divisive and bloody Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln delivered his second inaugural address. Addressing the issue of reconciliation and reconstruction, he said:
“…Let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the Nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
President Lincoln’s speech reaffirmed the government’s obligation to care for those injured during the war and to provide for the families of those who perished on the battlefield. Today those words – “To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and orphan,” are the motto of our Department of Veterans Affairs, and are inscribed upon its headquarters in Washington D.C.
Men and women who serve represent a ‘band of brothers’ that chose military service for reasons that are not immediately understood by many. They serve for this Nation, for their families and for each other. They are proud, courageous and ask for very little in return. Joining our fighting forces is a lifetime commitment, and as this Army video reminds us, “Once a Soldier, a Soldier for life.” <http://dvidshub.net/r/43nz8w>
Veterans Day offers us an opportunity to show our thanks to the 21 million living veterans who have served in our Nation’s Armed Forces and to honor those who served in generations past – in war and in peace, at home and abroad. I also want to recognize the many Civilians who have served in combat zones alongside our uniformed military. We hold a special memory for those Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and Civilians who made the ultimate sacrifice and gave their lives for the freedoms we enjoy today.
On behalf of all of us in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, I say ‘thank you’ to my fellow Soldiers, our Veterans and their Families. We are forever grateful for your dedication and your service.
Essayons…Building Strong…Army Strong!
Thomas P. Bostick
Lieutenant General, US Army