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November 9, 2009

2009 Veterans Day Message From Mayor Bill White


     This past week our nation prayed for the families and loved ones of those killed and wounded at Fort Hood.  We mourn their loss as we honor the daily sacrifice of those members of our Armed Services still fighting in one of our nation's longest wars.

     These sacrifices remind us to join our fellow citizens in honoring those who serve us this Wednesday, on Veterans Day, as Houston Salutes American Heroes.  A ceremony begins at 10 a.m. on the steps of City Hall and the largest Veterans Day Parade ever here, with more than 130 entries, begins afterward at the corner of Texas Avenue and Smith Street. For details see

     We are inspired by those like Marine Sgt. Klay South, who on Veterans Day five years ago was shot point-blank in the face in Fallujah.  He endured more than 40 surgeries and procedures, and has dedicated his life to assisting those rehabilitating from major wounds as founder of Veterans with Valor.

     President John F. Kennedy on Veterans Day reminded us of freedom's price at Arlington National Cemetery, where he is buried now: "For our part, we shall achieve. . . peace only with patience and perseverance and courage-the patience and perseverance necessary to work with allies of diverse interests but common goals, the courage necessary over a long period of time to overcome an adversary skilled in the arts of harassment and obstruction. There is no way to maintain the frontiers of freedom without cost and commitment and risk. . . . No man who witnessed the tragedies of the last war, no man who can imagine the unimaginable possibilities of the next war, can advocate war out of irritability or frustration or impatience.  But let no nation confuse our perseverance and patience with fear of war or unwillingness to meet our responsibilities."

     My father was part of a generation sometimes called America's greatest.  He landed in Europe on Omaha Beach and returned wounded and wiser after hard and bloody combat.   But I believe every generation, including those now in uniform, has among its numbers those among our greatest.

     Our nation equipped my father for peace and not just war, with the GI Bill and VA medical care.  I am proud of the people of my community for joining me in the nationally acclaimed Returning Veterans Initiative, giving returning veterans hope with employment opportunities and assistance with social services and cutting red tape.

     Across our nation let us resolve to treat our returning vets as VIPs, and renew our commitment to those who returned from Vietnam, Korea and other conflicts.  There should never be a forgotten war, or a forgotten veteran. And let us reach out to the families of those now deployed, and express in deeds rather than just words the thanks of a grateful nation. Please join us for the Veterans Day ceremonies and parade.

Bill White, Mayor