To the veterans of our Armed Forces:
I recently sat down to write a note to a servicemember from Cincinnati named Josh Hargis, known to many Americans for his ‘salute seen around the world.’ It happened last month after he was wounded during a suicide attack in Afghanistan’s Kandahar Province. Just as Josh was coming out of surgery – and presumed to be unconscious – his commanding officer arrived to deliver the Purple Heart. The Cincinnati Enquirer describes what happened next:
“As the Purple Heart presentation began, Hargis struggled to move his right hand and lift it into a saluting position. Military protocol calls for a soldier to salute when he receives the Purple Heart. A doctor tried to restrain his right arm. It was, alas, a losing battle.”
“If you want to know the meaning of strong,” his wife, Taylor, said, “it’s an Army Ranger.”
Stories like this – vivid as they are – lie beyond our true comprehension. Like Corporal Hargis, each of you answered the highest call. What had to be done, you did. We can’t calculate the value of what it took. Even if we could, we would never be able to make you whole.
This leaves us to say what must be said. At parades, wreath-layings, and airport homecomings. At businesses that make vets feel like VIPs. We will say ‘thank you’ for being willing to do anything so we can have everything. We will pledge to do our work so that you can more easily find work and good care. And in the appointed moment of silence, we will pray for the friends you lost and the men and women we hope will return home to join your ranks.
To be part of this outpouring is to see plainly that you have not only preserved liberty. Because of you, our children know what it means to serve with honor and give back to one another. They know where to find the meaning of strong.
This is a job well done.
The letterhead may say “Speaker,” but consider these merely the sentiments of a grateful citizen. May God be good to you and yours, and may you always enjoy the fruits of your labor.
–John Boehner, Speaker of the House of Representative