Yokota Veterans Day ceremony hails service in wars past and present
November 13, 2004
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — More than 100 community members turned out at Nina Circle on Thursday morning for a tribute to the nation’s veterans.
The ceremony, conducted by Yokota’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9555, featured formations of active-duty Air Force servicemembers and Army JROTC cadets from Yokota High School. Local Boy and Girl Scouts, each dressed in uniform, also took part.
“Ever since the armistice of Nov. 11, 1918, this has been a day to remember our debt to all who have worn the uniform of the United States,” Col. Mark Schissler, 374th Airlift Wing commander, said, referring to the pact that ended World War I. “Today, we long for world peace again.
“Our veterans have borne the costs of America’s wars and have stood watch over America’s peace. And today, every veteran can be certain: The nation you served and the people you defended are forever grateful.”
He praised the 25 million American men and women who served in Korea, Vietnam, Somalia and the two World Wars — as well as in the deserts of Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan — saying all share a unique lifetime bond.
“Veterans of every era, every background and every branch have certain things in common,” he added. “They live by a code of discipline. Every veteran understands the meaning of personal accountability and loyalty and shared sacrifice. From the moment you repeated the oath to the day of your honorable discharge, your time belonged to America; your country came before all else.
“Our war veterans, wherever they fought, can know this: In the harshest hours of conflict, they served just and honorable purposes.”
With 1.4 million servicemembers now on active duty — and with the United States engaged in a global war on terrorism — Schissler said those principles remain just as meaningful today.
“America’s mission in the world continues, and we count on some very special people to carry it out,” he said. “They are earning the title of veteran by serving in the cause of freedom.
“In the three years since our country was attacked on 9/11, the men and women of our armed forces have heroically engaged our terrorist enemies on many fronts. They’ve confronted grave dangers to defend the safety of the American people. They have liberated two nations — Afghanistan and Iraq — delivering more than 50 million people from the hands of dictators. Those who serve and fight today are truly making history in a tough fight.”
They’re tackling those great risks voluntarily, he added, always mindful of the sacrifices made by the “heroes” who fought and served before them.
“Our airmen, sailors, soldiers and Marines serve a great cause and they follow a great tradition, handed down to them by America’s veterans,” Schissler said.
“Our veterans from every era are the finest of citizens. We owe them the very life and liberty we know today, and they have our lasting gratitude.”