(NOTE: Gov. Perry frequently deviates from prepared text.)
Thank you, Charles (Laird, chaplain, Korean War Vets Association).
We Americans enjoy a degree of freedom that citizens of other nations can only dream about. History shows again and again the human tendency to enslave others in the pursuit of power. That urge is simply part of the unredeemed human nature which will, sadly, be with us 'til the end of time.
That desire to dominate is balanced, by the unrelenting human desire to be free. I am proud to live in a nation willing to defend freedom wherever it is threatened.
Our country is built on the desire for freedom, forged in conflict some 224 years ago. We stand here today on soil liberated from a foreign oppressor some 170 years ago.
As Americans, as Texans, we insist on freedom as a condition of our existence.
Not only do we demand freedom for ourselves, we have exported it around the world. Throughout our history, Americans have courageously died to free others from tyranny. That principle endures today as our armed forces serve around the world.
Our men and women who patrol the streets of Baghdad or search the mountain caves of Afghanistan, are part of a long line of Americans who have chosen service over safety; esteemed freedom over comfort; considered liberty more precious than their own lives.
They are part of a legacy that we honor today.
This memorial is a simple yet stirring reminder that we esteem most highly those who shed their blood in our nation's defense. Today, we honor the Texans fallen in World War II with this permanent mile marker on America's journey of freedom.
We are honored, today, to be in the presence of living monuments to that titanic struggle. I hope that you veterans here today will accept my thanks and the gratitude of more than 23 million Texans.
Some might know you as the "greatest generation" because of a reporter's book, but I use that phrase because I am a son of that generation.
My father, Ray Perry, who is here today, was a tail gunner on a B-17 that flew 35 missions over Europe. I have spent my life admiring him and those like him who served. It amazes me to consider that, at the age when I entered Texas A&M, he was already risking his life for his country.
What is it that compels men and women to place themselves in harm's way? I believe it is a rare mixture of honor, integrity, courage and, above all, a love of freedom. Today, we celebrate those ideals as we honor those fallen in that noble effort, World War Two.
It is fitting that we should place the monument here on the capitol grounds, with a view of the Goddess of Liberty as she stands guard on the capitol dome. I pray that our love of liberty will always compel us as a nation, as individuals, to fight for freedom the world over.
And so, today, I say thank you for your service and God bless you. God ble