Today I celebrate with my brothers and sisters the joy and anguish of being a veteran. Today I declare my undying respect for my fellow veterans for their contribution and sacrifice in serving what I continue to believe is the greatest nation in the world. Today I grieve over those we’ve lost and cherish those still among us.
When I get together with other veterans, we don’t talk about our experience under arms. We don’t need to. Each of us knows what we’ve been through. There is among us a silent understanding.
The strongest bond I’ve ever observed or experienced between human beings forms when people fight side by side for their country. Each of us knows that we’ll give up our lives to save the man or woman next to us in battle. We don’t call it love—that’s too sentimental. But that’s what it is.
So today I honor all my fellow combatants, those who survived and still suffer the permanent soul damage that combat inflicts, and those who didn’t live to stand again by my side. You are my brothers and sisters. May you find peace and fulfillment.