Veterans Day speaker: hopes ‘peace breaks out soon’

Kile Brewer
Posted 11/15/17

CAMP BLANDING – Veteran’s Day is a solemn event.

It is not a holiday for celebration, it is a time to remember. Audience members clap with reservation, focus hard on the colors of the flag …

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Veterans Day speaker: hopes ‘peace breaks out soon’


CAMP BLANDING – Veteran’s Day is a solemn event.

It is not a holiday for celebration, it is a time to remember. Audience members clap with reservation, focus hard on the colors of the flag during the singing of the Star Spangled Banner, and take time to thank those who have served their country. Interactions take on a seriousness note at Veteran’s Day events, civilians thank those who risked their life for the United States, while veterans remember the hardships of war on foreign soil.

“Often, those who have served will balk at accepting accolades and titles such as ‘hero,’ this is because war is an ugly thing,” said Brig. Gen. Paul Chauncey III, the assistant adjutant general for the Florida National Guard during his speech at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center on Nov. 11. “[Veterans] do not serve to garner such titles for themselves by and large. Rather, most serve out of a sense of duty, and an instinctual understanding of the need to defend what they hold most dear.”

Chauncey spoke to an audience made up of about half veterans and their family members, and half representing Fleming Island-based Boy Scout Troop 892 just behind the Camp Blanding Museum in the base’s memorial park. A cool fall breeze blew his words from the podium to the audience as he looked out at their faces from underneath his hat’s brim.

“Our nation has been at war, or in a state of persistent conflict for more than 16 years,” Chauncey said. “Our nation has once again come to experience what it means to send their sons and daughters into harm’s way.”

As he spoke it could be assumed that his mind wandered from the men seated to his left, all wearing hats emblazoned with Vietnam War or Korea, to the boys sitting to his right, suited up in their Boy Scout uniforms, a group that could see at least some of its members enter into the military after high school. Before digging deep into his pre-written speech, the Chauncey broke away from his script and thought back to a recent meeting in Washington, D.C. with other generals from around the country.

“We were discussing the Army’s readiness for threats that may appear in the future,” Chauncey said. “All while hoping – and praying – that peace soon breaks out.”

Chauncey reflected on a trip he took to Mount Vernon while thinking over discussions he had heard in his meeting with the leaders of the nation’s military. Admittedly, the meetings became arduous after a while, and his mind began to wander, so to pass the time he took a trip to the historic home. While there, he came to a conclusion while thinking about the life of a general, and first President of the United States, George Washington.

“If service is beneath you, leadership is beyond you,” Chauncey said, making a point to note this revelation before heading into the first line of his speech, captivating the audience with a meticulously-crafted ode to those who answered the call to serve.

After his comments, Chauncey took his seat and Chaplain Michelle Lawson closed out the ceremony by paraphrasing a poem typically used for Mother’s Day, reminding those present of the effects of war on every member of society.

“The bravest battle that was ever fought, shall I tell you where and when?” she said. “On the maps of the world you’ll find it not, it was fought by the mothers, spouses and families of our veterans.”


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