Soldier urges country to remember sacrifices of military, police and other first responders

Posted 12 September 2013 at 12:00 am

(Editor’s note: John Ulmen, a member of the U.S. Navy, gave this speech during the Sept. 11 memorial service on Wednesday at the Elk’s Club in Albion.)

Honored dignitaries, members of the military, ladies and gentlemen. My name is John Ulmen. Since that terrible day 12 years ago, I joined and serve in the Naval Reserve. In 2007 I was called to serve a 14-month mobilization to active duty. Seven months of that tour were spent at Camp Fallujah, Iraq, where my Seabee regiment contributed to the rebuilding of that shattered nation.

Whatever your position on our war on terrorism, it is always been a uniting factor for us Americans to display our compassion, to give aid, and to value the lives of others. That is what differentiates us from the terrorists, who use religion to mask their evil. Today we observe a solemn sacred pause in our daily routine. The attacks of that day served only to unite us, much like the attack on Pearl Harbor did. Flags displayed at the rubble of ground zero inspired and reminded us all of what unites us, and we responded with a sea of flags displayed throughout the nation, and we delivered swift retribution to those responsible.

That day showed that it doesn’t matter what uniform an American wears, whether they be first responders, EMT’s firemen, policemen, military or citizen. All stood prepared to give their all, and tragically, too many did. There is no greater honor for me than to serve this great country, and to salute all others who have likewise served, and especially to those who have laid down their lives for her like our brave citizens that dark day.

Coming from a military family, I learned at a young age how fortunate I was to be an American, by seeing and appreciating those who stood the watch and guarded our safety. I have proudly instilled my love for my country into my children, one of which presently serves in the Navy. I know they will pass on our love of America to theirs.

As I speak there are U.S. forces deployed around the world, some performing critical missions, some mundane everyday tasks. I can tell you that today, wherever they may be, they feel a sense of pride and satisfaction that they are standing the watch for all of you, and that we recognize and appreciate your support. It has been my privilege to serve you.

So, let us pause and reflect on what it actually takes and what it has taken to preserve our great nation. For the firemen, police, medical personnel, and our military and general citizenry who have sacrificed and still do, and to the sacred graves of those who have paid the ultimate cost, let us honor them and let us never forget to teach our children to observe and appreciate the meaning of this day and the cost of freedom.

John Ulmen