Everyone if you came to my house and went to my study, there are several things I would show you. I suspect that the first thing that I would show you would be a model of a British Spitfire fighter plane and two incredible pictures of my Uncle Noel who flew such a plane in the Battle of Britain. Next I would show you a 1922 US dollar bill. My father got that bank note from a German field marshal who he captured in 1945. Then I would show you my Tulane diploma that I worked so hard to earn. Right below it you would see a Purple Heart certificate I won while in the US Navy. It took a long time for them to get around to awarding it to me (roughly 36 years.) An intrepid lawyer in Northern Virginia went over to the Bureau of Naval personnel and had several meetings with them. He must have been both charming and persistent. He convinced them that I had earned the decoration. His fee was a modest $600.00. The Purple Heart certificate arrived at the house quite by surprise when I was on an overseas business trip. Elena opened it and was really touched. It’s signed by a Rear Admiral. It was so wonderful that my country had finally gotten around to recognizing my service and sacrifice.
To all of you who left family, home and loved ones. To all of you who raised your right hand and swore allegiance to this country, To all of you who put on the uniform and went through all of the rough training and sacrifices. To all of you who risked your life and those of you who got wounded or never returned, a special thanks to you. This is your precious day.