Weekly Address by First Lady Ann LePage: Remembering and Thanking our Veterans
I am honored to be speaking to you today about the cause closest to my heart and so often on my mind: our veterans, who we commemorate each November 11, the day in 1918 when our nation’s plan for peace prevailed and World War I was finally ended.
I find it fitting that Veterans Day always follows Election Day and the divisive campaigns that lead to it. Nothing unites all Americans more than the love for our great country and the pride and respect we have for the millions of our citizens who have answered the highest call to defend its honor and promote its ideals.
We are free, safe and strong thanks to the courage and selfless sacrifice of our servicemen and women and their patient, patriotic families.
Our veterans’ commitment to our country and the causes it stands for have not changed as a result of the outcome of this week’s elections.
Our veterans are not Republicans, Independents or Democrats. They are Americans.
They are not from red states or blue. They are from these UNITED States.
Our 22 million living veterans are your fathers and mothers, your sisters and brothers, your sons and daughters. They are your neighbors and teachers and firefighters and the bagger who packed up your groceries and your newly-elected representatives in Augusta and Washington DC. They are educated – with a greater percentage of our vets having earned high school diplomas or higher than the general population – yet they suffer increased rates of unemployment and homelessness.
This should not be. We must come together on behalf of our bravest to make the Maine they return to stronger than the one they were called from to serve. Coming home should not be their hardest tour of duty.
Just as they fought for our freedom, we all will fight to ensure they return to the health and higher education benefits they’ve earned and that growing Maine businesses hire these heroes, who return not only with the skill sets they’ve strengthened during their service, but with the culture of collaboration and communication critical to successful military operations.
Government, companies, communities, colleges, nonprofits, faith-based organizations, friends and family all have an important role in supporting these individuals. However, it takes a cooperative effort. No single person or program has the resources to provide the lifetime care and commitment our veterans have earned. Besides, our debt for their service is one we all must pledge to pay forward.
Our lives are busy, and it is easy to think of Veterans Day as just another day off from work or school. We owe them more than that.
Our appreciation can be expressed in many ways, from a nod of thanks to the driver with the Purple Heart plate to recommitting ourselves to service above self through volunteerism or charity. Visit with veterans at the Maine Veteran’s home, as the Governor and I will be doing over the next few days, or join those friendly Mainers who greet hundreds of thousands of troops –day and night– as they take those first sacred steps back on American soil at Bangor International Airport.
Above all else, never forget that our veterans risked everything so we all could have the freedom to achieve anything. To them, our state says – and shows – our collective thanks–, on Veterans Day and every day.
God bless our troops of past and present, God bless the State of Maine, and God bless the UNITED States of America. Thank you.