A message to high school students on Veterans Day

On 11 November 2022, Missouri Military Academy President Brigadier General Richard V. Geraci, U.S. Army (Ret) delivered the following speech at the Mexico High School (Mexico, Missouri) Veterans Day Assembly. Read President Geraci's bio.

Veterans Day is a celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, willingness to serve and sacrifice, and their contribution to our national security.

Veterans Day originally marked the end of World War I. An armistice was signed on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. Today, on the 11th day of the 11th month of the 22nd year of a new century, we recognize over 19 million veterans who have served our nation on active duty in the National Guard and in the Reserves.

In addition to our veterans, we currently have almost 1.4 million active duty service members, which is less than 1% of our population. Today, it is statistically harder to enlist in the US military than it is to be accepted into college. This is because in addition to being a high school graduate, you must be physically fit, meet medical qualifications, and not have a criminal record or have been trouble with law enforcement agencies.

Because of this criteria, we have great men and women of character in the armed forces today.

That greatness is the legacy of our veterans who have served in nearly every country, on every continent, on every ocean and in every sky on our planet. Everywhere they serve, our servicemen and women are and have been a symbol of hope, of freedom, and promise for a better future.

Veterans rarely talk about themselves. They talk about their buddies, their unit, their families and their country. There is no rank among veterans. All served their country for a common purpose: achieving the mission and preserving freedom.


Missouri Military Academy Review Veterans Day

President Geraci visits with veterans in attendance at the Missouri Military Academy Veterans Day review 2022.


Veterans have a special bond, forged by commitment, sacrifice, overcoming adversity, and dealing with constant change, as well as many achievements and victories. Today, many veterans continue to serve their communities and county outside the military.

Two important things I learned from my time in the military:

First, serving in the military introduced me to the immense amount of diversity across our nation and territories. There were service members with so many different backgrounds, amazing talent, wonderful ideas, and different opinions. We came together to support each other, accomplish our missions, and represent our nation with pride.

With every deployment and overseas assignment, working with our allies I learned about different cultures, religions, and customs while making new friends. I learned that we have much more in common than any differences. Our differences really made us stronger.

Second, the military specialty that I worked in involved state-of-the-art technology, sophisticated weapons systems with devastating accuracy. A lot of training and maintenance was required, yet I learned that no technology can ever take the place of a military service member. People, relationships and boots on the ground matter more than technology.

 A point you should draw from this is that cell phones can never take the place of other people, family and friends. Building personal relationships is the key to the success of any organization. Every veteran knows that building personal relationships and strong teams, through quality education and training with strict accountability, ensures success and victory.

As a young captain, one of my platoon sergeants who was a Vietnam veteran shared this poem by Charles M. Province* with me. This poem provides an important perspective about those serving and who have served in our armed forces.

“It is the Soldier”

It is the Soldier, not the minister
Who has given us freedom of religion.

It is the Soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the Soldier, not the poet
Who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer
Who has given us freedom to protest.

It is the Soldier, not the lawyer
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the Soldier, not the politician
Who has given us the right to vote.

It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,

Who allows the protester to burn the flag.


Missouri Military Academy Review Color Guard

Missouri Military Academy high school color guard, 2022 Veterans Day review.


As we honor our veterans today, I think it is appropriate for all of our high school students to discuss the following questions with their teachers, families and friends.

  • What can I do as an American to help my country?
  • What would happen to our society and all the freedoms and comforts we enjoy if no one stepped forward to serve in the military?
  • What obligations do I have as an American citizen to my country and to my fellow citizens?

There are many ways to serve our communities and country, not just in the military. What is important is that all citizens find a way to serve.

The veterans we honor today have answered these questions by their selfless military service to our country. Their example inspires our future generations to answer the call to serve our nation and to ensure our freedom, prosperity and security.

How will you answer the call to serve your community and our nation, and honor the legacy of our veterans?


Missouri Military Academy Review Veterans Day 2022

President Geraci, MMA faculty and staff who have served in the armed forces, and other visiting veterans at the Missouri Military Academy Veterans Day review 2022.


*Charles M. Province, a veteran of the US Army, is the sole and single founder and president of The George S. Patton, Jr. Historical Society. His poem is said to hang in the Pentagon and, without attribution, inscribed on a monument at Soldiers Field in Rochester, Minnesota. There are a number of slightly different versions of this poem in general circulation. This was copyrighted by Mr. Province in 1970.

 

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