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Governor Jindal's Remarks at Veterans Day Ceremony in Pineville

Location: Pineville, LA

Today, Governor Bobby Jindal addressed a Veterans Day ceremony in Pineville at the Alexandria Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Below Are Governor Jindal's Remarks As Prepared For Delivery:

*** Note: Governor Jindal also spoke off-the-cuff ***

Twenty-one years ago on this very day, President Ronald Reagan spoke to veterans at the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington D.C.

He said, "We remember those who were called upon to give all a person can give, and we remember those who were prepared to make that sacrifice if it were demanded of them in the line of duty, though it never was.

"…Most of all, we remember the devotion and gallantry with which all of them ennobled their nation as they became champions of a noble cause...

"…Our liberties, our values, all for which America stands is safe today because brave men and women have been ready to face the fire at freedom's front. And we thank God for them."

We gather together again today to thank God for our veterans.

Whether you served in the Army, the Marine Corps, the Navy, the Air Force, or the Coast Guard - each of you answered the call of duty and asked for nothing in return.

Indeed, all of you stepped forward to serve and to even lay down your lives for our great country.

We know that our freedoms are not free.

We have seen tragedies, wars, losses and hardships, across our seas and here at home…

Whether it was the attack on Pearl Harbor decades ago, or the attacks on 9-11 just years ago, we know the plain truth that there are those in the world who seek violence and destruction.

As the greatest land in the world, we have assembled the greatest military in the world to fight and protect the very freedoms that define our greatness.

Thank God for them.

Prior to the D-Day Landings at Normandy, General Patton spoke to his troops. He said, "All the real heroes are not storybook combat fighters either. Every single man in the Army plays a vital part. Every job is essential to the whole scheme."

He went on to say that, "Each man must not only think of himself, but think of his buddy fighting alongside him."

To our veterans -- you are the men and the women who did not put yourselves first. You fought for your comrades. You fought for your fellow soldiers and infantrymen, and most importantly, you fought for us.

General Patton was right. Every single job our veterans did was essential, and every job being done by those in our military today, here at home and abroad, is just as vital.

Just as important, I believe, are the sacrifices of the families of our veterans and those actively serving.

I have the privilege to go to homecomings when our men and women come back from fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, and I am always amazed by the stories of sacrifice that families endure while their loved one is away.

I meet men who are often seeing their babies for the very first time when they arrive home.

I meet parents who have never attended an arrival ceremony before, because their other children came back injured, or did not come back at all.

The price of our freedom is not something we often talk about. The sacrifices of families and friends are often quietly endured, and seldom on the front of the newspaper or shown at the beginning of the evening news.

But today is the day we take to honor these sacrifices. Those of our active service men and women, of our veterans, and of all the family members and friends who have sat awake at night in prayer that their loved one would return safely…and of all the moms and dads who saw their son or daughter depart to war, and never make it home again.

Thank God for them. Thank God for the strength and perseverance of those who gave it all and those who endured tremendous loss.

All of our soldiers and veterans have incredible stories of bravery and service, and I want to highlight just a few of them today.

A few months ago, we got the news that 21-year-old Michael Cote from Denham Springs had died in a helicopter crash in Iraq, while serving there in the Army.

I spoke to Michael's mother to offer prayers and condolences and I was humbled to hear the story of a young man who wanted nothing more than to serve his country.

He left this world too soon, but it was clear he was doing what he loved to do.

As the father of three young kids, it is amazing to hear stories of young men and women signing up to serve something so much greater than themselves -- and to even pay the ultimate price if that is what they are called to do.

That is the very legacy of our American military. Different generations are called to different battles, but they are all united by the common purpose of defending our country and protecting our freedoms. What an awe-inspiring mission.

There is also the story of Wallace Vincent, Jr. from Kaplan, LA who signed up to serve his country in World War II.

Wallace served as an Army rifleman in Cologne, France during his deployment.

His unit had been assigned to push through an area of heavy combat in order to clear the way for U.S. troops, when Wallace and his fellow soldiers came under heavy mortar fire from a wave of German soldiers in the distance.

Wallace was struck by shrapnel in his arms and chest and was knocked unconscious on the battlefield.

Some brave members of his unit were able to move Wallace to safety while continuing to fire back at the German soldiers.

Because of Wallace and his unit's efforts, U.S. troops were able to move forward through the area and press on to victory. Wallace was later awarded the Purple Heart.

There is also the story of John L. Levingston from Haynesville, who joined the United States Marine Corps during the Vietnam War at the age of 19.

While serving in Vietnam, John and a fellow Marine were sent on a mission to push back a group of enemy soldiers who were blocking John's company from advancing forward.

John remembers walking up a mountain to surprise the enemy and immediately being fired upon. He fired back and was able to take out a few enemy soldiers.

During the battle, a bullet grazed John's temple and he literally came within an inch of his life.

John continued to fight and was ultimately able to help the rest of the unit pass through the enemy lines.

John also was awarded the Purple Heart for his courage and his sacrifice.

While most people run from danger, these men ran toward danger to keep our nation safe.

I am proud to say that I consider them - and all of you - our true heroes.

Thank God for you.

Please join me in taking a moment to rise and honor all the service men and women who have served before and who are currently serving -- and their families -- who sacrificed so much.

It is so important to honor our veterans today and every day of the year. That is why I have been traveling to communities across the state to give our veterans Honor Medals, thanking them for their service.

I am proud to say that to date, we have given out more than 7,300 Louisiana Veteran Honor Medals, and we are still continuing to distribute them.

In closing, will you please join me in taking a moment of silence to honor those who recently lost their lives in our neighboring state, at Ft. Hood Texas.

Thank God for all those who sacrifice and serve our country.

May the Lord continue to bless Louisiana and the United States of America.

Thank you.

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