Text of Gov. Perry's Remarks on Veterans Day at Paris Junior College
(NOTE: Gov. Perry frequently deviates from prepared text.)
Thank you, Representative Homer. It is an honor to be here with the students, alumni and faculty of Paris Junior College and with so many East Texans who are proud to declare their love of this country and all who defend her on this Veterans Day.
To my fellow veterans who have kept America safe and made us proud, I say thank you on behalf of every Texan.
Today we honor the valor of your sacrifice and the legacy of your heroism, which is the freedom we so cherish.
The roots of Veterans Day can be traced to World War I, when on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, an armistice was signed and a great victory was won.
But it was not, as the world hoped at the time, the "war to end all wars."
Since that time, evil has repeatedly reemerged in new lands with new tyrants rallying under different banners, though the cry for destruction and despair is always the same.
And though the forces of darkness have emerged to spread fear in peaceful lands for more than 200 years, they have been overwhelmed by the light of liberty carried by American fighting forces on the field of battle.
America remains today as it was when she was founded: a bright beacon of hope for every human being whose soul longs for freedom.
America is a land built on the promise of a second chance for every person, a land where the trials and tears of yesterday are wiped away without penalty, where hope is reborn in the hearts of the hopeless the very instant someone sets foot on these shores.
The reason redemption is possible in America is because we are the freest nation ever to exist on the face of the earth.
But while America freely makes her gifts available to all, it is not without great cost.
The price of freedom is one that has been paid by every man and woman who has put on a uniform and patrolled occupied territory or strapped into a cockpit and braved enemy fire or quietly prayed on the somber journey from the ship to the beach.
It is a price that has been paid in the jungles of Southeast Asia and on the high seas of the Pacific, in the deserts of the Middle East, the fields of France and Italy and countless places American forces have answered freedom's call.
It is a price that is written in every line upon a weary soldier's face, counted in every mother's tear and etched upon the broken heart of every speechless father whose son or daughter never came home.
But it is a price that must be paid by some, so that all may be free.
That is an important truth my father taught me growing up.
As a World War II tailgunner who flew 35 missions over war-torn Europe, my dad was part of the greatest generation of Americans, those who confronted great evil with great courage, who liberated millions without claiming one ounce of foreign soil except that which was suitable to bury their fallen friends.
Those great heroes didn't do it for glory or fame or medals, but because they had a sense of decency, a sense of purpose and an understanding that freedom is not free.
It is the same spirit that dwells inside every veteran, the spirit that defines the very essence of America, that drives those serving today to stand for freedom, no matter the cost.
The freedom we have today is not the gift of academics, poets or politicians, it is the gift of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.
It is they who fought for inches of divided soil, who dropped behind enemy lines outnumbered and outgunned, who took to the air and the seas not knowing if the present mission would be their last.
The free air we breathe they have purchased.
The rights we espouse they have protected.
The liberty we cherish they have granted.
To every veteran who has answered the call of duty, who has stood in harm's way to protect the American Way I offer the salute of an indebted son and a grateful governor.
May you live every day you have left with pride, dignity and honor.
You have earned it.
And may the rest of us never forget it.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.