First off, I’d like to thank the selectmen for the honor of being asked to speak here today. I’m humbled by the gesture and proud to be able to stand in front of you today. In the spirit of the day, I’d like to share a few thoughts with you about the young men and women who are stationed around the world today on our behalf. Terribly, the nature of the conflicts we are involved in and the activities which we must engage in is that a young man is being subjected to danger right now. It is necessary that this be the case, to one extent or another, if we are to remain a free and independent people, as well as underwrite safety and stability throughout the world. Though, tragically, there is a young warrior alive today that will not be alive tomorrow. Next week, his name will be chiseled on a granite slab in a park in his hometown, much like here, memorializing the sacrifice he is making even as we gather here right now.
He has a proud legacy to uphold, as these names engraved here can attest. A legacy created by those who have served before him. In Europe and the Pacific, in East, Southeast, Central, and Southwest Asia, his forbearers served as he is doing today. I can think of no better way to honor this sacrifice than to define it, and to recognize it, and to profile the brave young man who is making it.
This young man is, in fact, just that: young. He is 19 years old. He was born in 1992 and graduated from high school last spring. He was in the 3rd grade in 2001. He played sports in high school and loves being a member of a team. He enlisted his senior year and left, immediately following graduation, to go to boot camp. He finished his follow on training at the end of last summer and was sent to his new unit in the fall. He arrived at his new station and was read the riot act by his new noncommissioned officers but enjoyed the time in a new place with all of his new friends. Because he will not be able to drink legally for more than a year, his weekend activities were somewhat limited. He nonetheless was able to have some fun and get into a little trouble. He spent the winter and early spring of this year in intense training in the California desert. In preparation, he was taught and mentored by his leaders and was given the finest training and equipment available. After returning to his station, he went home for a week to say goodbye to his family and friends and, considering he doesn’t own a car or any furniture, he packed what little he owns into government storage. He boarded commercial airliners with the thousand other young men of his battalion and flew to Europe, then on to Asia. There, he boarded an Air Force transport plane and flew to a windswept airfield in the middle of the desert. He then boarded helicopters with the 38 other young men in his platoon and landed in a dusty field next to the mud walled compound where he has lived since. He has hiked hundreds of miles and endured the physical challenge of his young lifetime. He spent today patrolling and is tired. He will be replacing his buddy on watch shortly and is checking his equipment. It is 8.5 hours ahead of Massachusetts (EST) in Afghanistan and he is taking his post.
Pray for him. Pray for this young warrior tonight, as he does our bidding at the far side of the world. Pray the he will have the strength to do his duty and, should the unthinkable happen, to bravely go to God, comforted by the knowledge of our love for him and nobleness of his cause. Pray for his family, that they will find solace until they join him again in the life to come. And finally, let us pray for ourselves. Pray that we be given the strength to lead lives worthy of the sacrifice this young man is making for us.