Thank you, Linda Hooks, or should I say Lieutenant Colonel Linda Hooks, retired from the military, but still on active duty at HUD!
Linda, you are one of the many members of our armed forces who turn to government service after retiring from the military. We benefit from your knowledge and experience, and from your love of country and your commitment to the American people. Thanks to all of you for your good work back in the days of saluting and military food, and now as you work to help our constituents obtain housing and help revitalize our cities.
Today we salute you!
I am certain that Veterans Day is more than just a day off and stores having sales. It is a day of remembrance and a day of rededication. I know, because my father is a veteran from the Second World War. He fought in the Pacific Theater, and it was a brutal, soul-twisting, gut-clawing experience against a formidable and tenacious foe.
It was also a surprising twist of fate. You see, my father grew up in Italy and came to this country for a new life of opportunity and freedom. He met my mother here, although she was Italian too. He is a cultured, loving man who wanted the best for his family, here and back in Europe. And he followed events closely back in Italy, with the rise of fascism and the loss of freedom. When he joined the armed forces, he knew what he was fighting for...no one had to tell him. He wanted to keep this country from harm, and to liberate the world from tyranny, enslavement, and violence.
And he fought well for his new country. He left a brave -- very brave -- and resolute man. He fought valiantly with great courage. He returned to America a hero, especially to his young son.
I thank God for my father every day, both as a father and as a veteran. So you can imagine what Veterans Day means for us...tears of joy, thanksgiving for his safe return and a profound recognition of a tremendous debt owed to this good man.
I know that there are sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, who feel like I do. Veterans are returning from Afghanistan and Iraq each day, and we are proud of them. And we are proud of all of our veterans. They have served our country well, and served all of those worldwide, people like my Dad, who believe in the values of this country.
You know, we must make sure to tell them of our pride and appreciation. Each day, about 1200 veterans from the Second World War pass away. There are only about 3.1 million left. And on this day, and every day, veterans should know how much we care for them and appreciate them. We must acknowledge their many, many sacrifices and their outstanding service.
And we must work to help veterans find employment when they come home. I am particularly pleased that HUD participates in the "Coming Home to Work" initiative, sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs. This is a voluntary program to allow veterans with an opportunity to obtain training and practical experience through working in a federal agency. This is a new program, and we already have six volunteers. I want to thank them for working at HUD to serve the American people through our programs.
Mr. Secretary, I know you feel deeply about this. I hope you will say a few words.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have come to know Secretary Jackson well over the past six years. It is an honor and a pleasure to have him join us today. I don't think I have to tell you much about him...we are a family here at HUD.
But I should add one thing to what you already know...when Secretary Jackson spoke at West Point a few months ago, his speech was about how members of the military provide leadership in many aspects of life, in the community, in our schools, in religious settings, and in our homes. Secretary Jackson has been a strong advocate for helping members of the military become homeowners earlier in life, even as they move from post to post. He has been a good friend to our armed forces and our veterans. He has been a powerful advocate.
Secretary Jackson, thank you for coming.