USA — Chairman Marshals Parade for Veterans

SAN FERNANDO, Calif., Nov. 11, 2010 — On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the annu­al Veteran’s Day Parade here stepped off today, rem­i­nis­cent of when it began — at the moment the guns fell silent on the West­ern Front end­ing World War I in 1918.
The San Fer­nan­do Val­ley cel­e­brat­ed its vet­er­ans with bands, fly­overs and speech­es. Chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. Mike Mullen – a Los Ange­les native – served as the parade’s grand mar­shal.

Mullen thanked the peo­ple of the Val­ley for the hon­or to him and his wife, Deb­o­rah. “We have deep Val­ley roots,” Mullen said. “We grew up here, we went to high school here, just down the road.”

Mullen recalled cruis­ing down Lau­rel Canyon Boule­vard – the route of the parade – in his father’s Mer­cury.

“It is an hon­or to be with you to reflect on America’s great­est trea­sure – the vet­er­ans of our armed forces,” he said. “From Sarato­ga to Saigon, from Cor­regi­dor to Kuwait, from Korea to Kan­da­har and a thou­sand oth­er places, our men and women in uni­form have served and sac­ri­ficed in a way that has been a hall­mark of our nation.”

Each Amer­i­can should rec­og­nize vet­er­ans’ ser­vice and their sac­ri­fices, Mullen said. He thanked the sol­diers, sailors, air­men, Marines and Coast Guards­men from every gen­er­a­tion for their com­mit­ment to Amer­i­ca and free­dom around the world.

“As we cel­e­brate the vet­er­ans who returned safe­ly, we also know that for many, the war fol­lows them home,” Mullen said. “They have returned for­ev­er changed by what they have expe­ri­enced. So today we hon­or and embrace every war­rior from every war with both vis­i­ble and invis­i­ble bat­tle wounds.”

It also is appro­pri­ate that Amer­i­ca mourn and remem­ber those ser­vice­mem­bers who did not come home. “We lift them and their fam­i­lies up in our hearts and pledge to nev­er for­get their sac­ri­fices,” he said.

Before com­ing to the parade, Mullen joined Cal­i­for­nia Gov. Arnold Schwarzeneg­ger to launch a ser­vice project at the Vet­er­ans Affairs Greater Los Ange­les Health­care Sys­tem cam­pus. Mullen spoke to the vol­un­teers who gath­ered to rebuild a gar­den acces­si­ble to the dis­abled on the VA cam­pus.

“This hap­pens … when we have two wars and we’ve got tens of thou­sands of vet­er­ans return­ing home,” Mullen said. “This is the best mil­i­tary I’ve ever been asso­ci­at­ed with in the more than 40 years I’ve been priv­i­leged to wear the uni­form. They are typ­i­cal­ly 18 to 24 years old … and they have served and served with­out ques­tion and they’ve made such a dif­fer­ence.”

As the vet­er­ans return home and tran­si­tion back to civil­ian life, they will bring their lead­er­ship abil­i­ties, knowl­edge, and life expe­ri­ences back with them, the chair­man said. “They have made such a dif­fer­ence for our coun­try, we need to make sure we make it pos­si­ble for them to con­tin­ue to make that dif­fer­ence,” he said.

The chair­man wants Amer­i­cans to con­nect with their mil­i­tary, and there is a dan­ger with few­er peo­ple hav­ing expo­sure to the ser­vices that the mil­i­tary could be iso­lat­ed from the peo­ple it serves.

“Those of us in the mil­i­tary need to con­tin­ue to work hard to com­mu­ni­cate the mes­sage to con­tin­ue to sup­port and rep­re­sent those who serve now and once served,” he said dur­ing a short press avail­abil­i­ty here. “We must con­nect the Pen­ta­gon and the VA with com­mu­ni­ties through­out the coun­try. And when I say com­mu­ni­ties I mean the peo­ple and the lead­ers through­out the coun­try who under­stand the chal­lenge and the great upside poten­tial for invest­ing in these young peo­ple who served.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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