Rear Admiral Kathleen Martin said that she will never forget her recent encounter with two young marines at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. Both men had been seriously injured in Iraq, but they were walking the halls of the hospital visiting other wounded U.S. troops, and offering words of encouragement.
"One of these young marines had lost one eye, part of his face and one arm, and the other had lost one leg and one arm, and yet they had the courage and the strength to face their injuries," said Martin, a retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral, who is the CEO of Vinson Hall Corporation in McLean, and the 2005 executive director of the Navy Marine Coast Guard Residence Foundation. "So when I am asked if our young men and women who are serving us today are any different from those who have served us in the past, I can honestly say that they are cut from the same brave cloth."
Martin said these remarks at last Saturday's second annual Veterans Day ceremony, held at the Great Falls Freedom Memorial. Martin was the event's keynote speaker.
"Our country continues to produce heroes everyday," said Martin.
She urged citizens to honor and respect all of the American men and women who have served and are currently serving military duty for their country.
"Today we honor so many men and women who willingly went into harm's way to protect our freedom," said Martin.
BOB PATTAVINA, president of the Friends of the Great Falls Freedom Memorial Committee, reminded those present that Veterans Day is "a day set aside to remember the men and women of our Great Falls community, as well as those who served from outside of our community."
"This memorial is our way through our community, to say a profound thank you," said Pattavina.
Before concluding her remarks, Rear Admiral Martin also wished the United States Marine Corps a happy birthday and read a poem called "I Like Marines" in honor of the occasion.
"Marines have distinguished themselves by their bravery and stubborn aggressive spirit," said Martin.
Great Falls resident Mary Aldacushion said she was thoroughly impressed with Martin's remarks.
"The keynote speaker was absolutely wonderful," said Aldacushion.
Margaret Johnson, also a resident of Great Falls, said that she attended the Veterans Day service to show her appreciation for those who have fought to protect our country.
"No one in my family is in the military, but I find this country and all of the men and women who serve it to be absolutely magnificent," said Johnson.