Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs
Jennifer Love Hewitt
Hi. My name is Jennifer Love Hewitt. I want to talk about some people who need your support.
The people I'm talking about live right here, they are part of your community, probably part of your family. I'm talking about tens of millions of people who gave their sweat and blood, and sometimes their lives to serve our country.
I'm talking about veterans. And not just the men and women who fought in wars. I'm talking about everyone who served in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.
What do you think about when you hear the word, "veteran?" Older men in uniform marching in a parade? Well, there's a lot more to it than that.
Let me tell you about something that happened to me.
Not too long ago I decided to visit some of our newest veterans who were wounded in the war in Iraq . I wanted to hear their stories and see what it was like for them to rebuild their lives after being wounded.
They just amazed me. What they'd been through; their grit and determination to get their life together after being hurt. And the people who were helping them recover. Amazing people. It was really inspiring.
But the thing that really got to me was how young they were. They were just a few years older than you. Many of them were my age.
And it really got me thinking about why they served and what we can learn from them. And not just them, but from all the vets who've served over the years since we became a nation.
Do you know anyone who is a Veteran? Well, my grandfather was.
There may be vets in your family, or in your friends' families. Millions of Americans serve our country in the Armed Forces.
On Veterans Day we're supposed to honor veterans.
Veterans served to protect the things we take for granted -- like being able to talk about what we believe and listen to the music we like, or being able to travel where we want without being afraid.
In America , thanks in large part to our military men and women, we have freedom and opportunities that many other countries don’t have.
So, I'm glad they're there -- ready to fight for our nation and protect us. And I'm glad for all those who came before them, and all those who will follow
Another thing I learned about talking to veterans is sacrifice. The kind of sacrifices they made to stand up for America.
Lots of people who served in Iraq left families behind to wait for their safe return. Others left behind girlfriends or boyfriends; or a good job. They certainly left behind all the fun stuff we like to do. Veterans all the way back to the war that made us a nation have made great sacrifices, sometimes even giving up their lives.
Why? They believe in something bigger than themselves. More important, they believe in keeping us safe and free from harm, and in protecting our way of life and all the freedom that we have here.
I believe that's why we're honoring veterans now. To say, "thank you." "Thank you for all you've done."
Find out for yourself about veterans’ experiences by inviting some veterans to come talk to your class. It's easy to do and your teacher can help. Just ask the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the VFW. Please visit the Web Site www.vfw.org. They have an ongoing program where you can meet and hear stories from real veterans.
There's a Web site where you can find out more. It has lots of information about veterans and Veterans Day. And suggestions about projects and things you can do.
Or you can volunteer to help at a VA Medical Center; or other places that help our veterans. Volunteer your time and you can get to know some vets. You'll get valuable experience and training. And the Disabled American Veterans offers generous scholarships for qualified student volunteers. Did you know there are already over 24,000 students just like you who volunteer?
Some other ideas? There's a Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress. You can talk to veterans about their memories and experiences, or record them on audiotape or shoot them on video. You'll learn something and make your own bit of history at the same time. The other thing is to write a letter to let them know that you are thinking about them, or be part of the national salute to hospitalized veterans on Valentine's Day.
Because they're out there saying, "We're standing tall to keep our nation and our people safe and free," I hope you've got a better idea about Veterans and why we should honor them.
Thanks for listening.