Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Veteran's Day Ceremony
November 11, 2002

My fellow citizens, it is an honor to be here.

Eighty-four years ago, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the guns of World War I fell silent. The “war to end all wars” was over.

But it did not end all wars.

Since that day so long ago, our soldiers have answered the call to service again and again. World War II. Korea. Vietnam. The Persian Gulf. Afghanistan.

Our soldiers have left home and loved ones knowing they might not return. They have done this because “freedom isn’t free.”

Today we honor all who have paid the cost of freedom. There are 670,000 living veterans in Washington state. I want to thank every one of them.

We stand in the shadow of a “Doughboy.” There were so many names for our soldiers: “GI,” “Yank,” “Flyboy,” “Leatherneck,” “Swabby,” “WACs,” “WAVES” and just plain “Joe.”

Back here at home, we knew them by other names. Names like Dad, Mom, Son, Daughter, Brother, Sister, Husband, Wife, Sweetheart.

Those who have fought and sacrificed and died have been from all ethnic backgrounds and religions.

They have included Latinos, African-Americans, Asian-Pacific-Americans, and Native Americans – groups that faced discrimination at home but whose men and women have gone off to protect our freedom and democracy because they believed in the essential goodness and destiny of our nation.

War is an equal opportunity tragedy, sacrifice knows no color, and all have bravely answered the call. How proud that makes us to be Americans.

My own father, Jimmy Locke, was a sergeant in World War II and in the Army’s 5th Armored Division and served in the European Theater. He was among the many who went ashore the beaches of Normandy.

Fifty years after the “longest day” at Normandy, President Clinton returned. I would like to dedicate his closing words there to all our veterans:

The flame of your youth became freedom’s lamp, and we see its light reflected still in the faces of your children and grandchildren.

We commit ourselves, as you did, to keep that lamp burning for those who will follow. You completed your mission . . . But the mission of freedom goes on. The battle continues. The “longest day” is not yet over.

God bless you, and God bless America.

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