It is difficult to find words to adequately honor the sacrifice of the veterans who have served our country. From the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror, Americans have sent their best and brightest to risk their lives and make the ultimate sacrifice so we can live in peace and prosperity. Their sacrifice protects the basic principles of our republic: we are endowed by our Creator with unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Those concepts were not new when Thomas Jefferson wrote them into the Declaration of Independence, but our nation was the first to put them fully into practice in a manner of self-governance and the rule of law. Those basic principles allowed for the protection of people and private property and for generations of Americans to reap the reward of investment and work. They moved our economy from one of horses and plows, to combines capable of harvesting an acre of crops in a small fraction of the time. They changed our lives from sweating or shivering to get water, to a home with heating, cooling, and running water. It allows us to pull a small computer out of our pocket and communicate with nearly anyone, anywhere on earth.
The exceptional nature of our country is lost if we are unable to protect ourselves. Threats to our values and way of life exist now and have existed since our nation was just a collection of British colonies. The sacrifices of veterans protect our ability to say what we want, worship who we want, and call ourselves American citizens.
Our country is not perfect. It is not perfect now and it has not been throughout history. But I am confident when I say our nation is the greatest county on earth. Even with those shortcomings, we remain a beacon of freedom to people all around the world who desire those same basic principles. Our soldiers have fought and died in other counties to protect the innocent and free people from tyranny. These truths make America unique in its role as leader and defender of freedom.
It is the men and women in our Armed Services who ensure those principles endure, so it is only fitting they receive recognition for their service. I hope you will join me this weekend in thanking those men and women keeping our country safe.