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Kristian Nordby '22 Speaks at Needham Veterans Day Ceremony

St. Sebastian's senior Kristian Nordby gave a speech at the Needham Veterans Day Ceremony at Memorial Park on November 11, 2021. Kristian is interested in attending a Service Academy or enrolling in an ROTC program.

Assistant Headmaster Michael Nerbonne, who selected Nordby to speak, said, "Kristian did a spectacular job representing St. Sebastian's by honoring with his words the assembled veterans and their families. His speech was a most fitting part of our Veterans Day Commemoration which concluded on Friday with US Army Captain (Ret.) Andrew Maxwell '06's address to the School. I am very proud of Kristian for so eloquently standing and delivering on such an important topic." Along with Nerbonne, Kristian's parents, Kelly and Hans, Headmaster Burke, some members of the faculty and several of Kristian's classmates were in attendance.

Nordby's speech can be read below:


Good morning,

We gather here today on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the anniversary of the signing of the armistice between Germany and the Allied forces that effectively ended World War 1. We stand here to honor the men and women who bravely put on the camouflage to protect their fellow Americans, many risking or giving their lives in the process. There is no simple “thank you” that can truly express our gratitude, but in our thoughts and words here today, I hope that we can demonstrate at least a fraction of our appreciation.

Today we honor those who, as President Ronald Reagan said, “fought for, defended, and passed down our freedom.” Our country started with a war in which we fought for our unalienable rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. In the time since, there have been those who stepped up to preserve our democratic ideals, not for any reward or personal gain - but only because they believed in a duty to serve on behalf of their nation.

These are the soldiers, sailors, pilots, engineers, medics, nurses, and specialists who sacrificed a life of normality to fight for something greater than themselves. They gave us hope. Twenty years ago, our nation suffered a tragedy that shook the hearts of every American, the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In the time following these events, our nation's finest deployed to fight a war on terror. Ten years later, Bin Laden was brought to justice by our Navy’s Seal Team Six. So, these are the few who, on a day-to-day basis, laid the foundation for our hope that the world is becoming a better place. Whether you agree or disagree with the politics of our foreign policy, it is important that we support those who put on a uniform and followed orders because they wanted to fight for their country.

Today we honor those like former Marine John Musgrave. I don’t know how many of you read the Wall Street Journal this weekend, but in it lies an article celebrating the life and military career of a Vietnam veteran who suffered, quote, “the worst wounds . . . the wounds that didn’t show a scar.” He now writes poems in hopes of providing consolation to those whose experience in war also carved wounds that are not visible. So, we gather here today to show our support for these veterans, holding in our prayers the intention that they may overcome the consequences of combat, either physical or mental.

Today we honor those in generations past and present who set the precedent for future soldiers, who serve as role models to those who may follow in their footsteps.

We honor those who fought in Afghanistan. After our withdrawal from the longest war in U.S. history, I find it appropriate to honor the troops who fought a war against terror and injustice for both our people and the oppressed of other nations, many of whom made the ultimate sacrifice. There is no doubt that these soldiers made immense, positive contributions in their time there. For twenty years, the citizens of Afghanistan took part in a democracy in which not only men but also women were given a say in their government.

These are our veterans, who returned home and became our math teachers and football coaches, bosses and employees, police officers, statesmen - still seeking a life in service.

It is an honor, beyond words, to stand up here and speak on behalf of my community. I first came to revere the service given by our veterans as a young boy. My grandfather served in World War II in the Norwegian underground, smuggling refugees across the border into neutral lands. Though I was young, I understood the risks in what he did. Through stories told by him and my father, I developed a personal sense of appreciation for our military men and women. It is what motivated me to pursue a life in service to my country. I hope to attend the U.S. Military Academy and have applied to the ROTC program as well, endeavoring to follow in the footsteps of our veterans.

To the veterans among us here today, this day, this ceremony, and our gathering here is all in tribute to your service. You are the few who stand apart, who turn over their independence and free will so that we may live in a world that is safer and more just. There is no simple “thank you” that can express our gratitude. It is a debt that we can never fully repay.