Veterans Day address 2019

Veterans Day 2019                  Charles Knutson, Sgt. at Arms – Last Salute

Throughout history societies have prospered and people have progressed.  Progress and prosperity as well as the peaceful pursuit of happiness all require the presence of order.  The establishment of security forces to secure order would be as essential to any group as is food and water.

Providing security for the masses as they follow personal pursuits is essential.  Without it, marauders from other areas would simply take the product of their labor and enslave or kill them.

For a people to live in an environment of safety and peace there must be those willing to defend them.  This defense often comes at great cost.  To stand the ground between the people you have vowed to protect and those intending to do them harm is a commitment unlike any other.

Often the very people you protect are completely unaware of the daily risk or sacrifice willingly rendered.  They know not your name, not your life, not your family or dreams.  They have never met you and occasionally don’t even support you.  Yet you place yourself between them and ever present danger.  Willing to do whatever is asked.  Willing to breathe your last breath on a war torn and chaotic battlefield so that they may never suffer the same.

Marine, Soldier, Sailor, Airman, a name given to each individual as they enter the United States military. Personal identity cloaked behind a title which represents the very definition of protection and security.

Americans live lives of greater prosperity and happiness than any other society before them.  It is no coincidence that they are protected by the greatest military in human history.  The American military is so well trained and competent that hundreds of millions are protected by less than one percent of their total population.

This unique historical distinction is unparalleled.    It is a much greater anomaly when one considers the fact that many allies of the United States as well as smaller countries, either partly or completely depend on the American military to provide them the same safety and security Americans enjoy.

Never have so few stood so selflessly committed to the protection of so many.   This selfless commitment requires a discipline and attitude that often creates detachment and separation from those benefitting the most.  As our military continues to evolve, the culture of professionalism and singlemindedness pervades. Due to these traits many people see the military as an increasingly distinct society and subculture.  It is simply a devoted dedication, a pledge, a faithfulness demonstrated by discipline, bearing, honor and valor.

The divide existing between most of society and the military all but vanishes in time of war, when televisions stations string together seemingly endless coverage of young Americans so far from home and family conducting dangerous mission after dangerous mission.  Absent of war, the media rarely focuses on the military unless there is a specific high profile mission or a training accident resulting in the loss of life.  These stories should remind society of the ever present danger in the persistent and relentless training required to achieve such a high level of proficiency. 

The military life is a path which requires a dedication of total self.  It is transformative of character and abilities.  It is a path that both demands and expects a level of responsibility and accountability distinct from all others.  Responsible for life and death, accountable for personal actions ……… all while remaining uncompromisingly professional.

The standards and values America’s veterans represent are undeniable and unyielding as is their vigilance in protecting those they serve.

We as a nation must do more than celebrate Veteran’s Day.   We must celebrate a commitment to each other, to serve each other, to help each other, to dedicate our lives to something larger than ourselves.

We must remember that a veteran stands for all of this.

As Veterans we stand together.  Even in passing, we remember and honor our fallen.  Honoring one’s service to country is memorialized in a final gesture of respect underscoring the nobility of military service.  The rendering of military funeral honors endures as a sacrosanct ceremony permanently confirming the fallen’s  contribution to his fellow man.

Reflecting upon the importance of this final tribute was the genesis for establishing Last Salute military funeral honor guard.  Upon combining our forces with the VFW rifle team we created a ceremonial funeral honor guard capable of conducting highly professional and extremely elaborate honor ceremonies.

Honoring those who serve and comforting their families at quite possibly the saddest moment they will experience is unquestionably our primary mission.

Last Salute not only conducts well over one hundred funeral ceremonies each year but countless memorial ceremonies on holidays such as Veterans Day and Memorial Day.  Last Salute also provides support and assistance to many veterans’ charities, veteran’s services organizations, Police Departments, Fire Departments, municipalities, and the United States military.

In addition to ceremonial support which includes presentation or posting of colors, flag folding, Taps, memorial bell, Civil War cannon firing, gun salute and event management, Last Salute also provides considerable static displays.  These displays include Humvees and other military trucks as well as numerous other military items.

Last Salute also visits many schools to conduct exhibitions and engage students.  Last Salute enjoys a very constructive relationship with area schools.  Schools appreciate our efforts to connect with children. Teachers value the demonstration, education and display services which Last Salute provides.

We are currently collecting donations of military equipment to complete the creation of a mobile military history museum to be used at the many schools we visit.  This will give us a very unique opportunity to educate the students about military life and its history….

Legacy….. the courage, determination and integrity of America’s veterans is undeniable.  This legacy must be supported through continued acts of service, for each other, for our communities, for our children.  The story of America’s heroes,  America’s veterans,  needs to be told in both word and action.

Celebrate those who served today.  Reflect upon all that is gained by that service.  Support our military, its veterans and organizations serving them.

Thank you for your service and Happy Veterans Day.

Copyright 2019 Not for reprint in whole or part without express written permission.


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