Day by Day

Friday, November 11, 2005

My favorite words for Veterans' Day

Remarks on Departure From Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu, Hawaii

April 24, 1984

I have to take a moment and say to you here, in this particular place, what it means to me to be here with you men and women in uniform and with all of those who are not in uniform but who also serve; those who know some of the privations and hardships, the inconveniences -- your families, your wives, your children -- they, too, serve.

There are some among us who say that the military is one of the causes of war. I'm sure they're sincere in their belief, but they're dead wrong to believe that the uniform, that the military could be among the causes of war is like believing that the police department is responsible for crime. You are the peacemakers. The better you perform, the less likely it is that we will ever see combat or hostilities directed against our nation.

You know, many years ago in one of the four wars in my lifetime, an admiral stood on the bridge of a carrier watching the planes take off and out into the darkness, bent on a night combat mission, and then found himself asking with no one there to answer, just himself, to hear his own voice, he said, ``Where do we find such men?'' A decade or so ago, after spending an evening with the first returning POW's from Vietnam, Nancy and I found ourselves -- as the evening ended, having heard the stories of horror and brutality by men who had been confined as prisoners of war longer than any other fighting men in America's history -- found ourselves asking that same question, ``Where do we find such men?'' We find them where we've always found them when we need them. We find them where we found you -- on the main streets and the farms of America.

You are the product of the freest, the fairest, the most generous and humane society that has ever been created by man. God bless you all, and thank you. Thank you very much.

Note: President Reagan spoke at 10:50 a.m. at the base. Following the departure ceremony, the President boarded Air Force One for his trip to Guam.

To all the Veterans and their families who may read this: Thank you very much for being Such Men when we needed you.

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