Introduction by Clarence Becker

Our Reno Chapter of the Air Force Assn. & the Reno Navy League Council co-sponsored a Korean War Commemorative 2-day affair honoring the Korean War deceased & veterans here in Reno. Representatives of the 13 nations that participated in the war were represented by ambassadors or other legates. The wind up of the commemorative was a black tie banquet with some 700 plus in attendance on June 25th, the 50th anniversary of the start of the Korean War. We had 9 Congressional Medal of Honor Korean War recipients from all over the country as our guests as well. There are only some 21still alive.

It was a first class affair from beginning to end. Two troups of Korean Dancers were flown in from Korea & the President of Korea had a special medal struck (about the diameter of a baseball) that was present to all Korean War veterans that attended as well as a new DOD Korean war Medal that has just been issued & is available to all Korean War veterans.

A definite highlight of the banquet was, of all things, the benediction given by Rear Admiral Tim Beard, the commander of the Fallon Naval Air Station Electronic Warfare Center who retired a few days later. Powerful stuff!!


(Retired 1 July 2000)

This evening we have honored our veterans from a war of 50 years ago. These heroes set an example that is worth all of us following and remembering. But let us also remember that every day of the year there is a skirmish, a battle, a war, going on somewhere in the world. And frequently, the youth of America will find themselves involved in some of those conflicts - just as they did 50 years ago. And some will give their lives so that those at home can enjoy their freedom and liberty.

They will all become our Veterans like those we honor this evening - and I want to take this opportunity this evening to equate this celebration of our nation’s Korean war dead and the living to a tribute to our veterans in general - living and dead - for in the end we shall all follow in the footsteps of our predecessors we honor today.

Our veterans represent all races and ethnic groups. They are men and they are women. They are of every creed and belief, and they fit every physical description. They were your neighbor next door, the merchant at the mall, the police officer on the corner. Except in parades, the men and women who have kept America safe wore no badges or emblems. You couldn't tell a vet just by looking. The living-still number is over 26 million today.

Some of our Veterans were well-known heroes who received widespread acclaim. Most were not. Most were ordinary citizens who answered the call to duty when it came. They postponed their private lives, their peaceful pursuits of farm, factory, and office. They poured all their talents and energy into becoming Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines. Often, the call to duty led them to war's hardship, danger, and death.

In every war they were Corpsmen who gave their lives to save the lives of the wounded. They were Soldiers who jumped on grenades to protect their units. They were Marines who returned to their units, still not fit for duty, so that their squads might have a better chance at survival. In World War II they were wounded Sailors that took up the gun stations of their fallen friends to keep the incoming Kamikaze fighters from reaching and destroying their already crippled ships. They were the Marine drill instructor who never saw combat - but has saved countless lives by turning young men and women into Marines, and teaching them to watch each other’s backs. They were the nurses who fought against futility in Danang and went to sleep sobbing every night for two solid years. They were the old guy who bagged groceries at the supermarket - palsied and aggravatingly slow - who helped liberate a Nazi death camp and who wished all day long that his wife were still alive to hold him when the nightmares came. And they are the parade-riding Legionnaire who pins on his ribbons and medals with a prosthetic hand. They were ordinary and yet extraordinary human beings - persons who offered some their life’s most vital years in the service of our country, and who sacrificed their ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice theirs.

Young men and young women - many of them still in their teens, have witnessed the crucible of war and failed to come home. War forced them to mature in unimaginable ways. Millions of young Americans became warriors to keep sacred those freedoms they held precious.

War is a great burden to put upon our children. Yet it is true American determination and patriotism in the young men and young women of our armed services that makes ours the most powerful military force in the world.

General MacArthur said it well about the American soldier - it applies also to Sailors, Marines and Airmen today: "his name and fame are the birthright of every American citizen. In his youth and strength, his love and loyalty, he gave all that mortality can give. He needs no eulogy from me or from any other man. He has written his own history and written it in red on his enemy's breast." The memory of past wars lives on today - freedom is their legacy.

No matter where or when our Veterans have served, they have always served with distinction - they knew they had to fight. They knew they had to sacrifice. They knew they had to win. And they did just that, time after time, battle after battle. (Pause) They also knew the loneliness of separation from family and friends, and the fear of dying in a foreign land, alone, far from home. In serving America, they sweated, they bled, and they agonized. They crawled through mud and rain, and often ate their food from a tin can or a plastic wrapper. They forged deep friendships and felt deep pain when their friends were killed or maimed in battle.

Each American Veteran must be a source of strength and pride for our country. Collectively these courageous individuals not only protected the national security interests of the United States, but also upheld the principles upon which this great nation was built. Americans and millions of people around the world as well - enjoy the blessings of freedom, peace, and representative government because our Veterans were willing to risk their lives for them. We are forever grateful to these selfless individuals, especially those who have given “the last full measure of devotion” for our well being.

And let us continue to be always be aware that it was the Veteran, not the reporter, who has given and assured us freedom of the press. It was the Veteran, not the poet, who has given and assured us of freedom of speech. It was the Veteran, not the lawyer, who has given and assured us the right to fair trial. It was the Veteran, not the campus organizer, who has given and assured us the freedom to demonstrate. And it is the Veteran who salutes the flag, who served under the flag, and those whose coffin is draped by the flag, who sadly in my mind, allows the protester to burn the flag.

Our humble words cannot do justice to the sacrifices made by our Korean War Veterans and veterans from all conflicts. Veterans who did not return. Veterans who live on in our memories that we commemorate today. We cannot repay the debt we owe them or begin to repay them for the sacrifices they have made. Their service is noble. It has always been above and beyond the call of duty.

As we conclude this evening, I want to quote one of the most impressive impromptu speeches I've ever read - made of all places in a political exchange - between a hero of mine, candidate and Korean War veteran John Glenn, and his opponent at the Ohio Senate Democratic Primary race many years ago. Senator Glenn reminded us why it is we serve and what it really means.

Senator Glenn's opponent started the dialogue by asking John Glenn the following question, "How can you run for Senate when you've never held a job?" . . . Senator Glenn responded:

"I served 23 years in the United States Marine Corps. . . .I served through two wars. . . . I flew 149 missions. My plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire on 12 different occasions. . . . I was in the space program. It wasn't my checkbook; it was my LIFE that was on the line. . . . It was not a 9 to 5 job where I took time off to take the daily cash receipts to the bank. . . . I ask you to go with me, as I went the other day, to a Veterans Hospital and look those men with their mangled bodies in the eye and tell them they didn't hold a job. . . . You go with me to any Gold Star mother, and you look her in the eye and tell her that her son did not hold a job. . . . You go with me to the space program, and go as I have gone to the widows and the orphans of Ed White and Gus Grissom and Roger Chaffee, and you look those kids in the eye and tell them that their dad didn't hold a job. . . .You go with me on Memorial Day…and you stand in Arlington National Cemetery - where I have more friends than I'd like to remember - and you watch those waving flags, and you stand there, and you think about this nation, and you tell me that those people didn't have a job."

"I tell you that you should be on your knees every day of your life thanking God that there were some men - SOME MEN (and women) - who had a job. And they required a dedication to purpose and a love of country and a dedication to duty that was more important than life itself. And their self-sacrifice is what has made this country possible."

"I have held a job!”

(Pause) We all know who won that election.

Now let us come to a close this evening by bowing our heads for a brief moment to remember the Korean War Veterans we honor - those who never saw their families again, those who are with us this day, those all over our beloved country who helped gain us victory 50 years ago - and all of our servicemen and women who are away from home this evening - underway on ships and deployed around the world, away from their families.


God bless you all and God bless our wonderful country. Thank you and good night everyone.

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