During the Needham Veterans Day Ceremony on November 11, 2023, St. Sebastian's senior Henry duBose '24 delivered a wonderful speech that paid tribute to all veterans, including both his parents and other members of his family. He recognized the sacrifice that veterans make, as well as their commitment to our nation, not only through service but what they do as civilians.
Ben Goffredo '24 beautifully sang two songs - the National Anthem and America the Beautiful - to begin and end the ceremony -
Henry's speech can be read below:
In the mid-1680s my ancestors arrived in Charleston, South Carolina. They were escaping religious persecution they faced in France and wished to create a new life in the New World. But after a century of farming the South Carolina lowlands, their freedoms were infringed again. This time by England who imposed economic and social hinderances against the welfare of the colonists. This infringement caused many across the 13 colonies to fight in the American revolution ̶ including three of my ancestors, one of whom gave his life for the cause of freedom. Since America’s founding, my family has continued to fight for our country leading all the way up to both my grandfathers and parents.
So why does our nation dedicate a day and other forms of gratitude to veterans? What is so commendable about their service? I believe the answers can be found in the virtues not only associated with America but service to our great nation. America of course was built on the principles of a government that would protect the right of life of its citizens, the liberty they use to achieve what they see reasonable to achieve, and the pursuit of happiness that prompts great innovation and joyous life. But these tenants enshrined in the Declaration of Independence only speak to what Americans are automatically given, not what they have done with them. Since our nation’s birth, Americans have used their freedoms to create a better America ̶ an America where the next generation has more opportunity than the last. Americans have weathered the Wild West in pursuit of fortune, created industry that helped build the New York skyline, and survived a divisive Civil War. Americans have been persistent in moving forward and becoming better members of their great society.
But this move towards a better future would not be possible without one group: veterans. Veterans sacrifice parts, and sometimes the entirety, of their lives so that America can continue to move forward as it does so well. My grandfather was a pilot in the Airforce. During the Cold War, while East Berliners lived under the oppressive rule of the Soviet Union, my grandfather piloted a covert mission over East Berlin. His aircraft acted as a spy plane that took pictures of the city for US intelligence. He could not tell his wife where he went every few days out of fear of an intelligence leak. My grandfather exemplified sacrifice by not only withholding information from his wife but enduring the threat of being shot down by the Soviets if some suspicions arose. He sacrificed so his country was protected ̶ so that he could go home to his wife and two daughters knowing his duty to their safety was fulfilled. Then there is the ultimate sacrifice all veterans have the chance of facing in their service: death. Thomas Campell wrote, “The patriot's blood is the seed of Freedom's tree.” Those who fell on the battlefield died not only for the honorable servicemen fighting alongside them, but their family whom they will never see again. They died for America and the freedoms our nation sets out to protect. And like the American flags’ broad stripes and bright stars who flew through the perilous fight above Fort McHenry, our veterans remained committed to the defense of our nation and its ideals.
Growing up in a household where both my parents served as Army officers, the principles of virtue and discipline were quickly instilled in me. My parents stressed a devotion to educating oneself in order to live a better life. How do they do this? By exemplifying what they advise so my sister and I can understand how necessary these virtues are for a successful life. My parents are always committed to helping their kids through their struggles and applying the principles they learned in Army and civilian life. My parents are not unusual in this though. Veterans have shown they are committed to the betterment of the United States through not only service, but what they do as civilians. Whether it be the Dunkin Donuts down the street or the Oval Office, veterans continue to serve our nation by using their experiences to become outstanding citizens. For this reason, I sincerely thank all the veterans and those who have supported them. You all have protected not only your nation, but the ideals it stands for and the progress those ideals allow.
Thank you all and God bless America’s Veterans