Military Appreciation Day - Missouri State Fair

August 12, 2012

Thank you. It is a privilege to be here this afternoon to again recognize the men and women who have proudly, and honorably, served in our nation's armed forces.

Ladies and gentlemen of our military, both past and present - I thank and salute you for your service.

I'm especially pleased to help honor members of the Tuskegee Airmen. Seventy years ago, they stepped forward to serve their country, and helped defeat the Nazis in the skies over Europe.

Their courage and skill in combat... and their resolve that helped overcome the obstacles of bigotry they often faced...have made this group the stuff of legend. Thank you, gentlemen, for your service to our country. We honor you, as well as your fellow airmen who have passed on.

And I want to also thank the Patriot Guard, for their unbroken and unwavering support of our military members and their families. They have been faithful in giving honor and respect to our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines - especially to those who make the supreme sacrifice.

Thank you for making sure that we always remember and honor the service of those who wear the uniform, and what they do to keep us safe, and free.

Military Appreciation Day at the Missouri State Fair gives us the chance, in some small measure, to recognize the men and women of Missouri who have stepped forward to serve their country, both in times of peace and times of conflict.

Over the past 200 years, Missourians have answered the call of duty... and many have distinguished themselves through heroism and leadership.

Leaders such as General of the Armies John J. "Black Jack" Pershing... or the G.I.'s General, and the first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Omar Bradley... or the commander of the 82nd Airborne Division during World War II, General Maxwell Taylor.

And, of course, there was a captain of artillery from Independence who served on the front lines of World War One while in the Missouri National Guard, a man we all proudly know as the 33rd President of the United States, Harry S. Truman.

But behind the generals and admirals whose names are well known have been the millions who have served just as honorably, and just as bravely - and often sacrificing their own lives on our behalf.

Beyond their families and friends and hometowns, their names and faces may have not been known. But they certainly are no less deserving not only of our eternal thanks and respect, but also of our support to them and their families.

When our military veterans come home today, they are like the veterans of times past, in many ways. Like those who came back from the service in 1945...or 1953...or 1970, our veterans returning from military service today are coming back to their communities to work...or go to college...or to raise a family.

Like the generations before, they will become our leaders in government, in the military, in business, in education, in agriculture, and so many other fields.

And like those Missourians who served before them, the veterans of today will be the solid citizens that form the bedrock of our communities - the small business owner, the volunteer youth coach, the FFA leader, the church congregation president, the mentor to the next generation.

They will continue to have our support, especially in job training and employment opportunities, through programs such as Show-Me Heroes.

Show-Me Heroes has enlisted the help of more than Twenty-One Hundred employers, and has helped more than Sixteen Hundred Missouri veterans in finding jobs over the past two and a half years.

It is very fitting that the first units of the Missouri National Guard to be recognized and to formally receive the Governor's Unit Citation are the Agri-business Development Teams that have served in Afghanistan.

Missouri led the way for our nation's military, with the first Agri-business Development Team in 2007.

Other states have seen the success that Missouri has had in helping the farmers and villagers of Afghanistan in growing crops, raising livestock, drilling wells, and improving their lives, and many states have followed our example with their own teams.

The Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen of each of the ADTs of the Missouri National Guard shared their skills and knowledge of self-sufficiency with the people of that country... at the same time they showed their courage and training as soldiers in a region that required constant vigil against danger. That was demonstrated once again just a few months ago when the members of ADT VI fought off a fierce enemy attack on their base.

Three years ago, I had the privilege of being with the members of ADT II at Forward Operating Base Finley-Shields in Afghanistan. It was apparent to me that their work, and that of each of those teams, was a vital part of our military mission.

All of Missouri can rightfully take pride in their accomplishments. We thank them, and all of our fellow Missourians in the National Guard, for their service.

Courageous Missourians - including those gathered here today from several generations - have gone into harm's way when their country asked, without hesitation or complaint.

To our veterans and our active military - from World War Two through Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan - thank you for all that you have done on our behalf. It is a debt we cannot repay.

I ask that all of us continue to keep in our prayers those who are currently serving in our military, as well as their families, until they come home to us safely.

Thank you, and may God bless the great State of Missouri, and especially bless those who safeguard our liberty.