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JohnRgt

Happy Veterans Day '08

7 posts in this topic

As would I.

I visited my Grandfather today who served voluntarily in the Navy and ironically it's his 93rd birthday.

Thank you.

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As an aside, what was truly wonderful to see today was a document that my Grandfather had. It was from the city on behalf of the Country to the Vets after they got back, thanking them for what they did and how everyone is indebted to them for fighting for our freedom. It was so awesome to see I cried at that.

To know at one time this was appreciated so sincerely and deeply.

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It seems appropriate to repeat some of Ayn Rand's final statements in her address to the graduating class at West Point in 1974 (from Philosophy: Who Needs It?) Since she never spoke carelessly, it's interesting to note the bolded words below as well (bolded mine).

You have chosen to risk your lives for the defense of this country. I will not insult you by saying that you are dedicated to selfless service—it is not a virtue in my morality. In my morality, the defense of one's country means that a man is personally unwilling to live as the conquered slave of any enemy, foreign or domestic. This is an enormous virtue. Some of you may not be consciously aware of it. I want to help you to realize it.

The army of a free country has a great responsibility: the right to use force, but not as an instrument of compulsion and brute conquest—as the armies of other countries have done in their histories—only as an instrument of a free nation's self-defense, which means: the defense of man's individual rights. The principle of using force only in retaliation against those who initiate its use, is the principle of subordinating might to right. The highest integrity and sense of honor are required for such a task. No other army in the world has achieved it. You have.

West Point has given America a long line of heroes, known and unknown. You, this year's graduates, have a glorious tradition to carry on—which I admire profoundly, not because it is a tradition, but because it is glorious.

Since I came from a country guilty of the worst tyranny on earth, I am particularly able to appreciate the meaning, the greatness and the supreme value of that which you are defending. So, in my own name and in the name of many people who think as I do, I want to say, to all the men of West Point, past, present and future: Thank you.

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I may have metioned this in another post somewhere, but in the summer of 2000 I got to meet Ted Van Kirk, navigator of the Enola Gay, at the annual air show in Reading, PA. I was there with my younger son, then 11 years old. We both shook his hand, and I offered my thanks, though the mission for which he was known took place 16 years before I was born. There was no time to talk because there were a lot of people waiting in line to see him. He could have been brusque or dismissive, being used to attending that sort of event and meeting so many people, but for those few seconds we had his complete and sincere attention. Definitely a class act.

My father was in the Air Force in the 1950s, though he didn't do anything as dramatic, spending all his time stateside. In his honor, and in honor of all members of the military, past and present, I offer my sincere thanks.

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