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Retirees deserve utmost respect, gratitude

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- All of us who wear the uniform are familiar with those people who proudly served our nation over the years and are now enjoying the fruits of their selfless service as retirees. Sometimes, though, in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives we may not remember what they have done.

But not this weekend. Saturday is Retiree Appreciation Day here. This event will allow for all retirees, their dependents and surviving members to come to Patrick from all over Florida and get a full day of activities and some well-justified honors. As we enter that weekend, I wanted to spend some time and recap some items about retirees.
Retirees warrant and certainly deserve the support of our entire nation. Be mindful to show your appreciation for what they've done. Listen to their stories. Ask them to tell you about what they've done, where they've served, what it was like. You may find you have more in common than you thought.

Many of their tours and deployments were served under tremendous hardship, almost always unaccompanied. They endured long separations from their families and loved ones, missed out on innumerable birthdays, anniversaries and special moments. Sound familiar?

During his Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln challenged Americans to complete the boundless task of ensuring that liberty "not perish from the earth." Retirees stepped up and answered Lincoln's call. And so have you.

Leading from the front, driving in a convoy or even patrolling outside the wire is no different today that it was on a German battlefield in 1944, or in a Vietnam jungle in 1968. Or in the Iraqi desert in 1991.

Keep in mind that not everyone who served wore a uniform. Let's never forget the great accomplishments of the men and women who served as DOD civilians or volunteered in such organizations as the Women Airforce Service Pilots during World War II. Their efforts were and are important to the success this nation has and will achieve.

The gratitude and appreciation given for all our retirees should never fall to the wayside. Too many have paid too high a price for that to ever happen. So take the time to thank our retirees this weekend, as I'm sure they will do the same for you. Let me show you how it's done...

Thanks again for all you do.