[On Tuesday, November 11, 2014, Mayor-Elect Steven W. Martin welcomed visitors to the Paso Robles District Cemetery for the annual Veterans Day ceremony.]
It is my honor as your Mayor-Elect of the City of Paso Robles, to be here today and, on behalf of the Paso Robles City Council, to welcome you to these ceremonies.
In 1787 the founding fathers of this great nation were meeting to determine the course our country would take. Some favored establishing a monarchy. Others wanted a pure democracy with all decisions made by the people. Still others backed a system of representative government. According to one account: The deliberations of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 were held in strict secrecy. Consequently, anxious citizens gathered outside Independence Hall when the proceedings ended in order to learn what had been produced behind closed doors. The answer was provided immediately. A Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” With no hesitation whatsoever, Franklin responded, “A republic, if you can keep it.”
Franklin knew there were two sides to liberty: winning it and keeping it.
Today is the day we say “thank you” to every person who has ever worn the uniform of a branch of the United States military to ensure that liberty is won AND kept.
As Americans, we are all called to win and keep our liberty. We all have that responsibility. We are called to understand and marvel at the genius and courage that called the United States of America into being all those years ago. We are expected to understand the precepts of our liberty, take pride in them, defend them and apply them. We are expected to exercise the rights that so many of our uniformed brothers and sisters have secured for us, many by making the ultimate sacrifice on the battlefields of land, sea and sky. We are called to exercise our freedom of speech, protect our homes and communities, do justice to all and participate in the power and majesty of free elections and the orderly transfer of power. To do anything else would be the mark of most grievous ingratitude toward those we honor today.
Today is a day to speak of gratitude, of honor, of duty, of recognition, of remembrance and of commitment. And trust me, all over our great nation those words are being spoken. Veterans here and everywhere, hear me: Those words are being spoken today. They are being spoken to you, about you, for you. We owe you more than we can ever repay.
But we can begin to make good on our debt by living the liberty our veterans have won and continue to keep: uniting instead of dividing, building up instead of tearing down, participating instead of opting out.
As Americans, we all fly the Stars and Stripes above us and we all pledge to be faithful to that flag and the republic it represents, but it is you, our veterans, who have answered the call and made good on that promise. We all pledge to be one nation, but it is you, our veterans, who make our nation safe for the people to debate, dissent, disagree and, ultimately, decide. We all enjoy our liberty and demand justice, but it is you, our veterans, who stand as a bulwark for the former and create a cradle for the latter.
And so, to the servicemen and women on the dais, and those in the audience, and those stationed around the country and around the world… first, and always, thank you. Thank you, not just from your nation, but from your neighbors, from your sons and daughters, from your grandchildren and all the generations to come who will enjoy the blessings of liberty and the security of home and hearth because of your bravery, your patriotism and your faith in the vision of America.
Because of you our liberty is won. Because of you our liberty is kept. Because of you we are all here today and able to say with pride and courage:
“God bless our veterans.”
“God bless our liberty.”
“God bless the United States of America.”