Saturday, November 9, 2013

McCarthy: Veteran's Day is the time to thank those who have served to protect our freedoms

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, House Majority Whip and a Bakersfield Republican, gives us his Veteran's Day views.

 "As Veterans Day approaches, I was honored that South Korean Ambassador Ahn Ho-young graciously accepted my invitation to come to Kern County on Wednesday to honor our veterans,
especially our Korean War veterans who served and sacrificed so that the South Korean people may be able to enjoy the freedoms they have today. Standing in front of the Kern County Korean War Memorial at Jastro Park, Ambassador Ahn presented medals that were made with the old barb wire from the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that was melted down. To see our local veterans honored in such a way is something I will never forget.

 "Since our nation’s founding, America has been blessed with men and women who courageously served in the name of peace and freedom. They sacrificed and demonstrated strength, determination, and bravery. Around the world, our veterans have always been there to defend all of us and we owe them a debt of gratitude.

 "In 1775 on the Old North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts, an event occurred that would forever change the world. The words of American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson describe it best:  “By the rude bridge that arched the flood, their flag to April’s breeze unfurled, here once the embattled farmers stood, and fired the shot heard around the world.”  He refers to the first shots upon British soldiers by Americans acting under orders.  This small skirmish marked the first organized attack by American troops, the first British retreat, and the beginning of America’s fight for independence.  More significantly, it sent a message to the rest of the world that these American colonies would not live by the rule of a tyrant across an ocean - a belief that molded the identity of the American citizen.

 "On that bridge in Massachusetts 238 years ago stood individuals that were much more than farmers; they were our first servicemen, our first defenders of liberty, and our first veterans.

 "This Veterans Day, we recognize the contributions of all our veterans - some of them having made the ultimate sacrifice to protect and carry the torch of liberty.  In America today, less than one half of one percent of the American population serves in the armed forces.  Nonetheless, there are nearly 23 million veterans in the United States and nearly two million of them live in California.  I am proud to that say our Congressional District is home to one of the highest concentrations of veterans in the state - nearly 55,000 people have answered the highest call to service.

 "Because of our veterans, we live in freedom. And for those who currently serve, they will eventually join this special group that will forever have our gratitude. Let us all take a moment to say thank you for serving our country and making our community proud. I encourage everyone in our community to take part in as many of the Veterans Day activities this weekend and on Monday to honor our veterans.

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