Nov 17, 2014

NAGE Chief of Staff Speaks at Veterans Day Observance

NAGE’s chief of staff, Col. Bernard Flynn of the Massachusetts Army National Guard (Ret.), gave the keynote address at this year’s Veterans Day observance in Cambridge, Mass.
 
Flynn, a Cambridge native, spent his Army career deployed to locations around the world, including Iraq and Kyrgyzstan. He honored veterans past and present in his speech at the World War I Veterans Memorial. Excerpts:
 
The act of donning a uniform is a deeply symbolic act, it always has and it likely always will be. It’s an act that express a deep and selfless commitment to the idea we call America….
 
Today we are gathered on Veterans Day to honor the 19.6 million Unites States veterans who have so willingly defended the freedoms we cherish…
 
The outreach and benefit rights that the Massachusetts Legislature has enacted rank the first in the nation. The Welcome Home Program, administered on a daily basis by local veterans service agents like Steve Vesce, assists returning veterans in the areas of employment and reemployment rights, civil service and veterans’ preference, financial and civil protection, employment opportunities, education, healthcare, and housing….
 
I want to emphasize housing because today 1 in every 3 homeless individuals are veterans….
 
On October 30 I was at the Baltimore Washington International Airport awaiting a flight back to Boston. An announcement was made in the terminal asking awaiting passenger to stand and give a round of applause to 47 World War II veterans who were traveling to Washington to visit the World War II Memorial. At the time of the announcement, a second plane had landed and 15 soldiers in Army combat uniform were the first to get off the plane and they were greeted by a standing ovation from the passengers in the terminal. Five minutes later, 47 World War II veterans, some in wheelchairs, some in walkers, were greeted with a heartfelt standing ovation. At that moment I realized that I just witnessed ….the nation’s oldest Veterans…and the nation’s youngest veterans….
 
We’re here today to celebrate the strength, courage, and dedication of our veterans. Today I want us to not only remember their gallantry on the battlefield; we must look at the lasting legacy of strength and service they brought with them when they returned home. What do our veterans do for this nation and our community? They continue to improve their skills…ensuring they remain strong for themselves their families….their communities…and their nation.
 
Returning veterans from Cambridge in all wars, conflicts and peacetime service, re-entered civilian life and gave back to society as productive members of the workforce who lead by quiet example.
 
They quietly and professionally did the nation’s business and they came home to Cambridge.

The American Labor Movement has consistently demonstrated its devotion to the public interest. It is, and has been, good for all America. - John F. Kennedy
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