In the last 228 years over one million Americans have died so that you can have your cookout today and so you can take a day off work. It's not just the day the pool opens, this day has been marked in American blood.
Sixty years ago Americans stormed the beaches of Normandy to free people we didn't know from tyranny. During that war an average of 112,500 American GI's died every year. One veteran from that war made an impact in my life that no one has surpassed except for my own parents. Thank you Tom Whitten.
Today we have soldiers in harm's way again, fighting in forsaken deserts in Iraq and Afghanistan to bring freedom to people they don't know. My cousin just returned safely from Iraq; thank you, Stephen. While we are happy he's back home, we also think of the ones who didn't make it home.
There have been other wars, too. Thanks to the guys who beat communism back to the hole it came out of in places like Korea and Vietnam: we might all be spending rubles if it wasn't for you. And thanks also to the guys who fought and died in the battles we'll never hear about; the secret battles in jungles and deserts far and wide. We don't need to know the details to know that we owe you our freedom.
They all went "over there" to fight, so that we wouldn't have to fight here at home.
Thank you also to every soldier, Marine, airman or sailor I've ever know. Dave, Randy, Chief Dickey, Bill, Chuck, Gavin, Jon, Brad, Jack, and others. Not all of you were in combat, but there's a saying I like: "What's important is not what we paid you to do; it's what we paid you to be ready to do."
Don't let this be the only day you say "thanks." Don't let this be the only day you take the kids to the VA Cemetery.