A reminder to speechwriters who were not asked to write any formal Veterans Day speeches this year: It’s not too late.
If your corporation doesn’t have an official Veterans Day program, your CEO can still recognize this day with an all-employee email or vmail.
It’s never too late to say “thank you.”
And it’s never too busy for any of us to write seven simple words: “To all of our veterans, thank you.”
Tomorrow the US celebrates Veterans Day. Many military speechwriters and government speechwriters (at federal, state, and local levels) have been working on these remarks for weeks.
May I suggest? Speechwriters in corporations, non-profit assocations, public school districts, colleges and universities can also make a difference in their communities by preparing Veterans Day speeches.
Let me share a personal story:
Several years ago, when my son was in middle school, I asked him how his school had celebrated Veterans Day. His reply was brief: “They didn’t do anything.” Given that teens are infamous for brief answers, I assumed he had glossed over something … so a bit later, I asked him again. This time he was more specific. “Our German teacher started the class by saying it was Veterans Day. But no other teacher mentioned it – at all. There wasn’t any assembly, or any ceremony, or anything.”
Well, to me, this was unthinkable. So, I called the PR person for the school district, and she very pleasantly dismissed the issue by saying, “We don’t really have any military families in our district.” I said, “But Veterans Day isn’t just for military families. It’s for everyone.” This point did not seem to register … it just brought another pleasant dismissal: “Oh, I’m sure districts with a lot of military families did something … for example, the area around Willow Grove Air Station. But, we don’t really have many military families.” Again, I stuck to my main point. (You can see the Media Trainer in me coming out here!) “But Veterans Day isn’t just for the military. It’s for everyone. The district needs to honor this holiday.”
In the past couple of years, the local school has acknowledged Veterans Day (at least in some modest day). That’s progress.
Will they honor Veterans Day tomorrow? I don’t know. But I’ll be watching. And I’ll speak up if they don’t.
I hope you do the same.
Many of you are busy preparing remarks for Veterans Day. Perhaps these quotations will give you some ideas:
“War demands real toughness of fiber – not only in the soldiers that must endure, but in the homes that must sacrifice their best.” (Dwight D. Eisenhower, in a 1944 letter)
“The soldier above all other people prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.” (Douglas MacArthur, in a speech to West Point Cadets)
“Men who have offered their lives for their country know that patriotism is not the fear of something; it is the love of something.” (Adlai Stevenson, in a 1952 speech to the American Legion Convention at Madison Square Garden in NYC)
“[The American soldier] is not only brave but he is generous; and when he has fought for a principle and won, he has no desire to crush his foe, but is eager to abide by the old Latin maxim of “live and let live;” and he forgets and forgives, and lends a helping hand when a disposition to do the right thing is shown.” (US nurse and philanthropist Clara Barton … founder of the American Red Cross)
“If we had not persuaded the United Nations to back up the free Republic of Korea, Western Europe would have gone into the hands of the Communists.” (Harry S. Truman, in his autobiography)
“The Union soldiers and sailors are now veterans of time as well of war.” (Benjamin Harrison, 1892 acceptance speech, second Republican nomination)
“But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate – we cannot consecrate – we cannot hallow – this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.” (Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863)
“As men do not live by bread alone, they do not fight by armaments alone.” (Franklin Delano Roosevelt, “Four Freedoms” speech, 1941)
“A man who is good enough to shed his blood for his country is good enough to be given a square deal afterwards. More than that no man is entitled to, and less than that no man shall have.” (Theodore Roosevelt, 1903 speech)
“A man’s country is not a certain area of land, of mountains, rivers and woods, but it is a principle; and patriotism is loyalty to that principle.” (George William Curtis)
“I’ve always loved my wife, my children and my grandchildren, and I’ve always loved my country.” (last words of Dwight Eisenhower, 1969)
After Richard Nixon lost the race for governor of California to Edmund Brown, he held a press conference. Much was said, but these are the words that linger: “You won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore, because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference.”
Six years later (almost to the day) Nixon was elected President of the United States.
In remarks at Yale University back in 1985, Mario Cuomo (New York governor … and Democratic keynoter) provided this observation:
“You campaign in poetry. But when we’re elected, we’re forced to govern in prose. And when we govern – as distinguished from when we campaign – we come to understand the difference between a speech and a statute. It’s here that the noble aspirations, neat promises and slogans of a campaign get bent out of recognition or even break as you try to nail them down to the Procrustean bed of reality.”
The campaigns are over … and the job of governing moves forward. Time to get to work.
“The future of this republic is in the hands of the American voter.” (Dwight D. Eisenhower)
The candidates’ speeches are over. Now the public speaks.
Election Day gives us our turn. Vote. Vote with pride. And vote with gratitude to all the men and women who have made our vote possible.
On this date in 1936, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt won a landslide reelection victory over Republican candidate Al Landon. Roosevelt swept every state except Vermont and Maine.
On election eve 2008, it might be good to recall this observation by FDR:
“We are a nation of many nationalties, many races, many religions – bound together by a single unity, the unity of freedom and equality.”
On this date in 1783, George Washington gave farewell to his victorious army. The United States was free; the American Revolution was over. Looking back as Commander in Chief, Washington expressed these thoughts … and they have special resonance for us today as we approach the end of an historic election season:
“Who, that was not a witness, could imagine that the most violent local prejudices would cease so soon; and that men, who came from the different parts of the continent, strongly disposed by the habits of education to despise and quarrel with each other, would instantly become but one patriotic band of brothers?”
To celebrate the World Series, a few good baseball quotes are in order. Maybe you can work one of these into a speech.
“Statistics are to baseball what a flaky crust is to Mom’s apple pie.” (Harry Reasoner)
“Baseball is not a team sport. It is more a series of concerts by the artists.” (Jim Murray)
“Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in
“The game’s not over until it’s over.” (Yogi Berra)
“A baseball field is so covered with statistics that nothing can happen there without leaving its tracks in the records. There may well be no other facet of American life, the activities of laboratory rats excepted, which is so extensively categorized, counted and recorded.” (Bill James)
“Fans don’t boo nobodies.” (Reggie Jackson)
“Baseball is almost the only orderly thing in a very unorderly world. If you get three strikes, even the best lawyer in the world can’t get you off.” (Bill Veeck)
“Baseball is played on the fields of the imagination as much as on the diamond.” (Elinor Nauen)
“I see great things in baseball. It’s our game – the American game.” (Walt Whitman)
“You don’t save a pitcher for tomorrow. Tomorrow it may rain.” (Leo Durocher)
Today is the birthday of Jean Giraudoux, French diplomat and novelist (October 29, 1882). “Only the mediocre are always at their best.”