“Sure, we want to go home. We want this war over with. The quickest way to get it over with is to go get the bastards who started it. The quicker they are whipped, the quicker we can go home. The shortest way home is through Berlin and Tokyo. And when we get to Berlin, I am personally going to shoot that paper hanging son-of-a-bitch Hitler. Just like I’d shoot a snake!”
General George S. Patton – (addressing to his troops before Operation Overlord) – 5th June 1944
Usually articles and remembrances around Veteran’s Day begin with a reverential quote about sacrifice and/or honor but I thought I would give you something irreverent from one of my favorite generals, George S, Patton.
When I was a kid, one of the things I liked best was going to the family reunions on my dad’s side of the family. These usually occurred in the panhandle of Oklahoma where there is nothing but horizon for miles and miles. There were lots of things I liked about these get-togethers; the pot-luck meals, the baseball games we would organize (usually using dried cow patties for bases), the croquet games, and watching the sun go down at the end of the evening while enjoying home made ice cream that tasted all that much better because every kid had to take his turn turning the crank. But the thing I liked best about family reunions was listening to the war stories told by my dad and great uncles. My father served in the army in Vietnam and I had several great uncles who served in WWII. Inevitably, they would all end up in a group and start talking. They usually started off with funny ones but after a while things would always take a serious tone. By the time I was 11 or 12, I had heard most of them a hundred times but I never got tired of listening. There was always a swelling of pride and patriotism in my chest as I listened to the men in my family talk about serving their country.
I just wanted to write a few lines and say thank you to all of you veterans out there. Thank you for the sacrifices that you have made. Thank you for putting your country before your self and family. But mostly thank you for my freedom. John Adams once said “I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.” It is because of you, and the men and women like you throughout our nation’s history, that my children live in a nation with a bright future as citizens free to choose the course of their own lives.