Operation Enduring Freedom Memorial Dedication
Brevard Veterans Center Plaza, Veterans Day, 2014
Donn A. Weaver
Unveiling of Operation Enduring Freedom Memorial Monument
Honoring all who have served and will serve
Donn A. Weaver
Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2014
Brevard Veteran’s Center Merritt Island FL
Good Morning. Thank you again for being here. Now we shift gears to honor our Nation’s newest Veterans, many of whom continue to serve. Like the Greatest Generation of WWII Veterans, they took the fight to the enemy abroad to prevent carnage at home. Unlike WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam War Veterans, they did so all as volunteers. They saw their families, friends, battle buddies and country as worth the risk, worth the substantial shift in their own life’s dreams. They keep going despite the vagaries of shifts in strategy, tactics and despite the sense of frustration over recent events in Iraq and Syria and the actions until recently of often mis-guided Afghan leadership. In fact, the youngest among them go even though they did not fully comprehend then what happened on September 11, 2001.
If I may ask, please close your eyes for a moment. Think back to where you were, what you felt and how worried you were on the morning of 9/11. Thanks to veterans, less than five weeks later, the first American military special forces and our Naval and Air Forces were leading attacks via horseback, stealth bombers, cruise missiles and air assault operations against Al Queda and the Taliban. Not one Afghan was among the 19 hijackers, but a fanatical, minority government had corrupted that country to serve as the base for planning and training for the attacks against America. Within weeks the country of Afghanistan was liberated from Taliban oppression and our forces were able to offer the Afghan people their best chance in their thousands of years history to be free. As remnants of the Taliban and ALQ ran for cover and hid for years, our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen continued to run to the fight even as its scope, intensity and support changed.
Today we gather to honor the more than 1.2 million Americans and their families who have and will serve in Afghanistan, often multiple times; who did all that was asked and more; who sacrificed, many suffering grievous injury and some paying the “last full measure of devotion”.
It took more than 50 years for our nation to build a fitting memorial to those who served in WWII, almost 20 to those who served in Vietnam. But Wars are different now. Thirteen years after the fighting in the mountains, deserts and villages of Afghanistan began, it goes on and is already the longest war in American history. Your Brevard Veteran’s Council and those who have contributed decided not to wait for some day, for some decision. Thus they moved to plan and fund a special Memorial behind me soon to be unveiled. The men and women who protect our country today in faraway lands like Afghanistan deserve our thanks and recognition NOW.
This monument is a testament to how certain we as a nation must be to honor military service and sacrifice no matter our feelings about why, when, where and how our troops were sent to battle. It is my honor to speak for them. Also, to thank all of you for being here. You may well be witnessing one the first such public memorials for those who have served and are yet asked to continue their “run to the fight” in Afghanistan. Memorials already exist on military reservations marking especially the Fallen of various units. There are many memorials to individuals who have sacrificed, but now, thanks to wonderful vision and perhaps memories of Americans failing to honor veterans in the not too distant past, Veterans and Citizens of Brevard have made it happen now. Our newest veterans deserve no less. May this Memorial validate our support to them in their eyes and better open the eyes of other Americans to their service and commitment. Thank you.
I have never been to Afghanistan. Our oldest son, Glenn Weaver, an Army veteran of the Gulf War era and a reserve helicopter pilot has. He spent almost 18 months in Afghanistan starting in 2011 serving our country at the Embassy in Kabul. He did so in part to honor his brother and all who have served and sacrificed there. The name of his brother and our youngest son and six other Brevard area warriors appear on the monument behind me to honor their supreme sacrifice. Glenn, we are proud of you and thank you for traveling so far today to share your thoughts about so many Americans you have seen serving in Afghanistan.
Thank you Glenn. Now we would ask you all to stand for a moment to reflect on the sanctity of what this Memorial represents. Fr. Scott Holcombe of St. David’s Episcopal Church in Cocoa Beach will lead us in reflection and prayer for this dedication. Fr. Holcombe.
Now, we ask all Gold Star Family Members to join the Weaver family at the monument to officially unveil for all to see as it joins the many other tributes to warriors past in the Brevard Veteran’s Memorial Plaza.
The designer and artist who volunteered to help create this monument, Jeanne Weaver, a Gold Star Mom, would like to share with all of you some of her experiences and the lyrics of a song popular with today’s troops which many of you may recognize.
Let this monument dedicated on this day, stand as a vivid reminder to all who visit here of how much so many American volunteer veterans have done for our country since 9/11 and will do for as long as it takes. God Bless Them.