Friday, February 22, 2019

Honoring those who served


Fort Belvoir honored veterans during its annual Veterans Day Observance, Nov. 8, at Wallace Theater. 

Col. Michael Greenberg, Fort Belvoir Garrison commander, said Veterans Day pays tribute to those who were in military service. 

“For more than 200 years, the veterans of this nation have been willing to serve and sacrifice for this country,” he said. “Taking on the oath to support and defend our Constitution and to do anything, even if it cost their lives.” 

Veterans share the same values of courage, pride, determination, selflessness, dedication and integrity, Greenberg said. 

Veterans have made the United States “an indispensible beacon for peace and freedom,” he said. Greenberg also recognized military families for their support and said they deserve respect and gratitude for their sacrifices. 

Navy Capt. Robert Fry, Fort Belvoir Community Hospital director, was the observance’s guest speaker. 

“It is to you, the brave men and women of our armed forces, both past and present, that I, joined by a grateful nation, say ‘thank you,’” Fry said. “Thank you for your service and for your sacrifice so that our country remains safe and free.” 

More than 14 million veterans currently live in the U.S., he said. “You are the one percent of America’s population who volunteered to stand in defense of our freedom – everywhere and every time your country has called,” Fry said. 

Fry recounted stories from his 37 years of military experience, and the story of retired Marine Sgt. Maj. John L. Canley, a veteran recently presented the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Vietnam War. 

When Canley’s commander was severely wounded during a conflict, Fry said Canley “took command and led attacks against multiple enemy-fortified positions, while exposing himself to enemy fire, to carry wounded Marines to safety.” 

Fry also recalled how, in 2016, while stationed at a trauma hospital in Kandahar, Afghanistan, three Romanian Special Forces soldiers came to the hospital wounded from gunshots fired by a Taliban member who was disguised as an Afghan soldier. 

One Romanian soldier was dead on arrival, and a second died on the operating table. Fry recalled the pain he saw in the eyes of the commander and their battle buddies at the Soldiers’ deaths. However, the third lived and went on to get married. Because of those events, Fry said he got his first tattoo, at age 54. The tattoo, Fry said, says “Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum,” a Latin adage for “If you wish for peace, prepare for war.” 

“For my fellow veterans, you have the ability to connect with a veteran in a way that is unique to those who wore a uniform,” he said to the audience. “I encourage you to seek out your brothers and sisters-in-arms, get to know them and ensure they know you’ve got their six.” 

The United States will be grateful for veterans’ service and commitment, even after they end their military service, Fry said. 

“We should be grateful, not only for their time in the military, but for all they do to continue to give back to their country and its citizens, long after their discharge paperwork is signed,” he said. 

Toward the end of his speech, Fry also asked the audience to pause to recognize Service members currently deployed. 

“May these brave men and women forever stay foremost in our hearts and prayers,” he said. “And always, may God bless you all, bless our veterans and bless these United States of America.” 

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