Thank you Jay [Kimbrough], for that introduction, and thank you all for joining us in this solemn and beautiful place. It's always a privilege to be among those who have sacrificed so much for our country especially on such hallowed ground.
The DFW National Cemetery is a powerful testimony to what can be accomplished by one determined man, a man who knew the importance of honoring the fallen and worked tirelessly to make it happen.
Dedicated in May of 2000, the DFW National Cemetery offers fitting tribute to our fallen patriots and honors the tenacity of Cloyde Pinson, Sr.
The roots of his inspiration date back to 1967 when his 20-year-old son, Cloyde Jr., lost his life while on patrol in Vietnam.
Cloyde wanted his son laid to rest close to home but he also knew this young warrior had earned the honor of burial in a national cemetery. Unfortunately, there was no national cemetery in North Texas no nearby place for those who had lost loved ones to war to visit and pay their respects.
In true Texas fashion, Cloyde decided to fix that situation not only for his own family, but for so many others.
He toiled 15 years as Chairman of the National Cemetery Committee never wavering in his vision of place of remembrance the very place where we stand today.
Thanks to Cloyde, Sr. and the people who caught his vision the grieving families of North Texas can lay their loved ones to rest with the full honors they so richly deserve.
Four years ago today, just two days after Cloyde Jr. was moved here, to his final resting spot Cloyde, Sr. passed away joining his beloved son in heaven and beside him in this place of honor.
His mission of love and honor was complete. We are honored to have Cloyde Sr.'s widow, Peggy, and their daughter, Diane, with us today and we join them in honoring the memory of these two men.
Peggy and Diane, on behalf of the millions of Texans your men went to war to defend, I thank you for their service and your sacrifice.
Today, we are gathered to continue our pursuit of Cloyde, Sr's vision of honoring those who gave their all to serve our nation especially in the Vietnam War.
The names of those who died in the jungles and rice paddies are etched in the black granite of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. an enduring reminder of the severe price of freedom.
We know the names of the brave but now we must ensure we never forget their faces.
So there is a move afoot to create an Education Center at the Wall an underground museum near that distinctive Memorial in D.C. that will ensure the brave men and women who answered their nation's call will not be forgotten.
Like a lot of you here today, I came of age in the late "60s and my recollections of that time period are quite different from the images celebrated in popular culture.
Especially to those of us who served in the military the "60s and "70s weren't exclusively about long hair, protests, free love and concerts.
There are a whole lot of us who remember long hours of drill in oppressive heat, close-cropped haircuts, and an unshakeable dedication to the notion of liberty for all.
You don't hear those stories like you do the tales of Woodstock and Haight-Ashbury in part because so many who chose the path of service aren't around to speak for themselves. It is our responsibility and our privilege to keep their stories alive.
If we don't act, not enough people will know about the bravery patriotic Texans like Cloyde Pinson Jr or Air Force Major Curtis Daniel Miller.
MAJ Miller was born in Palacios, Texas, and attended Texas Tech.
After graduation, he married his college sweetheart, Susan, and shared the joy of welcoming their daughter, Christine, into the world.
I don't have to tell the folks here how "duty to country" can sometimes interfere with "happily ever after."
In 1971, Major Miller was deployed to Thailand, flying AC-130 gunships on reconnaissance missions.
On March of 1972, Major Miller and his crew were shot down over Laos and lost to history.
It took almost four decades to locate and identify Major Miller's remain but, just two weeks ago, he was finally laid to rest mere feet from where we're standing.
Today, Major Miller's wife, Susan, and his mother, Nell [Smith], are also with us Thank you, also, for being here.
When people discuss the dedication of our military members, they often forget the tremendous contribution their family members make dealing with the challenges of extended separation and attempting to ignore the looming possibility that their loved one might end up in a place like this too young and too soon.
On behalf of all Texans, please accept our sincere condolences on your loss.
We owe it to those who gave their lives, and those who loved them to do everything in our power to make the Education Center a reality. Whether you make an online donation at buildthecenter.org or share letters, photographs, and other keepsakes everything you contribute will make it easier to keep the memories alive.
By sharing those little-heard stories, we can provide a different perspective on that all-too-divisive period of our history and continue the healing of old wounds.
I have little doubt Texans will rise to this challenge.
Throughout our history, Texas has proudly hosted military installations and sent her sons and daughters to serve in the defense of our country.
Texans are quick to support a just cause and this cause is as just as they come.
In Austin, I will work with the legislature to ensure Texas does its part to make this dream a reality by pursuing an appropriation that will enable Texas to bear its fair share of the project's costs. Cloyde Pinson, Sr, showed us that hard work and dedication can make anything possible now it's up to us to make it happen.
Now, I'd like to bring back Jay, who has some very special people he'd like to introduce. Jay?