Tuesday, November 11, 2014

TOP STORY >> Crawford salutes veterans

Leader staff writer

The Cabot American Legion Post 71 held its annual Veterans Day ceremony on Tuesday at the Veterans Park Community Center.

First District Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Jonesboro) spoke during the event.

Crawford said people voted last week. “If the veterans had not raised their hands to serve the country, would America have had the right to vote?” he asked.

“We need to make sure we honor that debt and keep the faith of our veterans. They deserve the utmost respect and everything they’ve earned,” said Crawford, who was re-elected last week.

“It’s my commitment, 100 percent, to make sure the VA and everybody serving veterans is in the fight with passion and is 100 percent committed. If you are working in any capacity to serve veterans, and you’re not passionate about serving veterans, you owe it to yourself to seek a new line of work,” Crawford said.

Mayor Bill Cypert thanked the veterans for their service.

“Four out of 10 people you see on the streets in Cabot have something to do with the Little Rock Air Force Base. That is a strength we have in the city. I appreciate the base and everyone who serves in that capacity,” Cypert said.

Leia Smith of Cabot, a UCA student, spoke about veterans. After she spoke, state Sen. Eddie Joe Williams (R-Cabot) invited Smith to present her speech at the state legislative session in January.

Smith’s speech won the Cabot Legion Post 71 oratory contest for 2013-14. She went on to finish second in the state Legion contest. This is her speech:

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.

“These words are put into routine by age 5. These words are memorized by age 8. In grades K through 12, we begin each day by standing in unison and placing one hand over our heart, repeating the syllables with precise distinction and practice.

“Over the course of these years in our history classes, we learn the statistics of the great men and women dying for their country — for our country. We give a morning routine to the reciting of words.

“Yet we don’t think about the implications of these and the true alliance that has been shown by the men and women who fought to protect our right to say these words every morning. The civil liberties and rights we base our life upon in the United States, they are not a simple number or statistic. These men and women are a mother, father, son, daughter, grandfather, grandmother, sister, brother, neighbor, friend to someone.

“Not only that, but they put their alliance to a stature none of us could fathom. Our veterans put the well-being of freedom, the greater good of our country first. In the words of C.K. Chesterton, he does this not because he hates what is in front of him but because he loves what is behind him.

“This cause was great enough to them to not see their families for months on end, to miss the special moments like their children’s first words, or perhaps even the birth of their child. These men and women made camp in below-freezing temperatures when necessary, in sweltering heat melting the days away; wherever the plane sent them, wherever the call was headed to them. They lost vital time, limbs and much too often, these men and women, our protectors, lost their life.

“Beginning at the founding of our nation, stretching to our current day, over 600,000 service members have laid down their life, many dying beside a friend who would’ve given life for that of the man or woman next to them.

“These warriors did so not out of a luke warm disposition, but out of courage; courage not being the simplest term to understand by any means. It is the will to fight, to live, partnered with a willingness to die; to die for the greater good of their family, their loved ones, for America and the world.

“On behalf of the individuals my age, I need to apologize for the pieces of my generation that do not explicitly recognize these individuals. We acknowledge our love of the veterans today. We are mindful of their sacrifice. However, we need to internalize that they protected and protect us 365 days a year.

“From the times of Paul Revere to the current era of the War on Terror, sometimes we get comfortable in our security, forgetting the wholeness of its origins.

“Growing up grades K thought 12, they emphasized the proper way to construct a sentence, but spent little to no time constructing respect for our veterans. It’s not a verb-noun agreement. It’s an active verb in which we must participate and remember. I apologize for the luke warm disposition encompassing the youth today. However, I would like to mention this is not the entirety of the youth. We are a contradiction in terms. We are members of the ROTC.

“Much like my own story, there are many members of the youth that see a veteran that inspires us to do a greater good. We realize the sacrifice; realize the purity of it; yet many do not take the time to give thanks.”