St. Sebastian's senior Landon Bailey '23 delivered a spectacular and moving speech and Ben Goffredo '24 sang an absolutely beautiful rendition of the National Anthem at the Needham Veterans Day Ceremony on November 11th.
Bailey's speech can be read below:
We are fittingly gathered here today, celebrating the anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I; Veteran’s Day, the 11th hour, on the 11th day of the 11th month. Additionally, we celebrate and honor all the men and women who were willing to give quite literally everything to protect their country. There are simply no words that are sufficient to express gratitude to you. This speech can’t possibly crack the surface of how grateful I and everyone else here are for you and what you have done for and given for this country.
In Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, Sacrifice is defined as “A surrender of something for the sake of something else.”
This definition doesn’t do this word justice. Yes, sacrifice is a surrendering of something, but the word ‘something’ doesn’t make me think of the young, 18-year-old whose whole life changed when his number was called one day. Or the boy whose dad, uncles, and grandfather would tell him about their time serving, and felt a calling to enlist. Or the young adult who wanted to do more with their life than work a 9-5. These are the people who embody the word sacrifice, a simple definition in the dictionary can’t do them justice.
The second part of the definition says “for the sake of something else.” This is too vague in the case of Veteran’s Day. We all know what “something else” is. It’s our country, the place where people have a voice, and everyone has an opportunity to be great. We all wake up every morning and can live our lives freely because of the immense sacrifice of these men and women whom we celebrate today.
I have heard stories of service from my grandfather, who served in the Navy during the Vietnam War. He would always tell me stories about his time in the Navy. In addition, over the past couple of years, several people with whom I have been very close have given me more of an idea of what serving really means. The first person that I want to mention is a man named Brandon Blackburn, a veteran from rural Kansas. After the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001, he joined the military to fight for his country. Upon interviewing him for a paper, he told me about how he felt a deeper calling for his life, and the attack evoked these feelings and turned them into action. He served in the Army, and later on became a Green Beret. Although he never told me specific stories about his time overseas, the theme that stuck out to me was one of willingness to give everything for the men and women around you. This idea is not something that many people can say they’ve felt, which is why honoring those people today is so important.
The second person I want to mention is my best friend, Kristian Nordby. Some of you may remember him from last year, as he spoke on Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day right here. He talked about his desire to serve our country, and where that comes from. He is currently a freshman at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Having known him for so long, the decision he made to eventually serve our country wasn’t surprising. He has always been one to want to give everything for those around and closest to him. He will do great things in the future. These two men I mentioned are important people in my life who have and will serve this country. They embody what service means.
This day as a whole is a celebration of the service and sacrifice that you veterans have made, but the gratitude that I and so many others have for you goes far beyond just one day. Every Veteran’s story is different, but what all of them have in common is selflessness, service, and sacrifice. Whatever the reason was to serve, all you great men and women put your own individual pursuits aside to fight for and protect everyone else. Our gratitude for your sacrifice goes far beyond what words can express, and our debt to you is immense. Thank you for all you have done for this country. God bless.