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Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Staples Senior Andrew Kempler: “This Veterans Day Takes on a Special Significance to my Gene

By Andrew Kempler

Senior, Staples High School
Special to WestportNow.com

(Editors Note: Following are excerpts from Andrew Kempler’s remarks at today’s Town Hall Veterans Day ceremony.) First Selectwoman Farrell, distinguished guests, citizens of Westport, and our honored veterans. It is with great appreciation and respect that I address you today. It is hard to imagine what our society would be like if we did not have men and women among us who were willing to defend our precious liberty.  This nation has been blessed with generations of men and women prepared to sacrifice—even their lives—to ensure the fruits of liberty we enjoy today҅
Andrew Kempler addresses today’s Town Hall Veterans Day ceremony. WestportNow.com photo
Our nation was built on a principal of citizenship, which includes powerful rights and responsibilities.  The founders of our nation saw citizens not as passive participants, but as active leaders in every aspect of government.  The power the founders placed in the citizenry demanded a sense of civic responsibility from the people.  Democratic society requires a citizenry which will not only follow the laws and pay the taxes, but take a share in the rise and fall of the society.  Military service is the highest responsibility of citizenship.  Those among us who have not worn the uniform must find our own way to fulfill the duty that accompanies citizenship.  We honor the veterans through our dedication to the principles they sought to protect.  Today we look at the sacrifices of our veterans and we must ask ourselves what we have done for our community, our state, and our nation The war in Iraq has become a controversial issue in our society.  I personally believe that the war is a justified action and is a necessary step toward enduring peace.  At the onset of the war, I admit, I experienced a feeling of mild resentment as I watched others rise in protest.  I felt strongly on the issue and I did not enjoy watching my friends and neighbors criticize our government.  However, as I spent more time thinking about this war, I realized that my mentality toward the protesters was unsound and did not represent my true beliefs.  I loved my country so much that I almost betrayed its essence in defending it. The freedom of expression granted in the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution that governs all of humanity extends to every aspect of society. No subject is prohibited.  We have a responsibility as citizens to discuss and advocate for the issues that are most important to us. The administration of war is the gravest action a government can take, and I can think of no subject more worthy of our dissension.  The history of America is a history of protest. The voice of the people has maintained us through some of the most difficult times in our past and has produced positive social change in our society. However, if we dissent we must honor those among us who have served in the military…  When I think of the controversy that surrounds this war, I am reminded of French philosopher VoltaireŒs famous words, I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend to the death your right to say it. This Veterans Day takes on a special significance to my generation. In the past few years my generation has undergone its own shock and awe campaign.  We were first shocked by our nations vulnerability to attack and then awed by the strength and resolve of our military.  My generation grew up with a unique view of the military which has been shattered since the attacks of September 11, 2001.
The scene as Andrew Kempler addressed today’s ceremony. WestportNow.com photo
My generation grew up believing that America was not merely a super power, but the super power.  Unlike our parents, we saw no visible threat to our society. The Cold War had ended and the threat of a nuclear war that had constantly lingered over our parents had dissipated. The idea of another major American war was unfathomable to us.  War was something for movies and history books. On September 11, 2001, the towers of our invincibility fell, and the pervading tremor shook the core of my generation.  As we quivered it was the steady hand of the military that balanced us.  A military that most of us knew nothing about.  Few among us had fathers who had served in the Armed forces; we didnҒt have the late night chats and good war stories that educated other generations.  We just saw the military as this separate little world, which was interesting, but not something we really thought about.  After 9/11, our generation has quickly formed an intense interest in the military.  For my generation, the world of the military has finally become a part of our reality.  For many of us, the flames that engulfed our towers ignited the fire of patriotism that burns with in us.  We are inspired by the brave men and women who have served their nation in its time of need and pray that we will answer the call with the same dignity and fortitude. The legendary words of General MacArthur, “duty, honor, country” have inspired a new generation of American men and women.  God bless the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines who have fought and continue to fight so that we may be free. And may God bless a nation that can produce such heroes.

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Posted 11/11/03 at 05:44 PM  Permalink



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