Dr. Ben Carson
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
HUD Veteran Affinity Group Memorial Day Ceremony Remarks
Washington, D.C., Brooke-Mondale Auditorium, May 23, 2019
As prepared for delivery. The speaker may add or subtract comments during his presentation.
Welcome, everyone, to HUD’s Memorial Day Ceremony, and thank you for taking this important time to reflect on the contributions of America’s greatest heroes – those who laid down their lives so that we could stand for freedom.
I’m delighted to have with us today Congressman Jack Bergman. Congressman Bergman has served our nation not only as a distinguished combat veteran, but also as a Three-Star General in the Marine Corps – the highest-ranking military officer to have ever served in our federal legislature. As a physician, I also commend Congressman Bergman’s work to provide hospitals with operating room equipment, bolstering the vital medical services so many veterans greatly need. Thank you, Congressman, for being here.
I want to thank the Junior ROTC members of our Joint Force Color Guard from the John F. Kennedy Jr. High School for the presentation of colors, and for extending your outstanding work and dedication to today’s tribute.
I would also like to acknowledge Eva Fulton, for leading us in the Pledge of Allegiance; Dr. Gori, for capturing the spirit of our National Anthem; and Reverend Floyd Haralson for your powerful invocation. We are all humbled to have you share your beautiful talents with us, as we commemorate our nation’s bravest service men and women.
I also would like to extend a special thanks to our entire HUD Veterans Affinity Group, led by Walter Elmore, and all those involved with planning this event – as well as so
many other tremendous programs over the past 10 years at HUD. These programs have brought honor and recognition to HUD’s commitment to veterans, and your tireless efforts makes ceremonies, such as today’s, possible.
To our inter-agency, military, and community partners who are participating this morning — we are also very grateful for the work you do for our nation.
And to our Gold Star Families, no words could ever truly express our indebtedness to you, and no deeds could fully repay the depth of your sacrifices. Each of us in this room carries a civic duty to always remember what you have given, and to keep that gratitude always in our hearts. Thank you all for being here and for everything your lives and service means to our country.
Honor, Observe and Remember Our Heroes
We are gathered today to honor, observe, and remember our heroes – both the fallen soldiers, and their Gold Star Families, who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. These heroes were common men and women of noble quality, outstanding character, and resilient courage, who answered the call to defend our nation and its way of life.
The fallen soldiers of our Armed Forces span every generation, every class, every race, every color, and of every creed. They were brothers and sisters in arms, united then, as now, by their undying love of our great country.
Among them, this morning, we are called to honor the contributions of the Tuskegee Airmen. The Tuskegee Airmen were not only the first African American pilots to serve in America’s Armed Forces, they were an elite unit of our nation’s finest pilots, navigators, bombardiers, mechanics, and more, who served in Europe during World War II. They conducted more than 1,500 combat missions, and accumulated an incredible record of daring victories, in the midst of the most dangerous skies the world had ever seen.
Eighty-one of these heroes gave their lives and their liberties, so that millions could engage in the pursuit of happiness here in America, for generations after them.
Certificates of Remembrance
Indeed, a soldier, marine, sailor, airman or guardsman only dies if you never mention their name. For this reason, it is important that we recognize these American heroes by name – and honor their contributions with Certificates of Remembrance, which will be presented shortly today. Among these recipients:
- In remembrance of those Tuskegee Airmen who made the ultimate sacrifice, we present a Certificate to Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Jefferson, of the United States Army Air Corps;
- Also in remembrance of the Tuskegee Airmen, we recognize Lieutenant Colonel Harry T. Stewart, Jr. of the United States Army-Air Corps, whose Certificate will be received by Commander Micah Lenox of the United States Navy;
- In remembrance of Sergeant Michael Heede, Jr. of the United States Marine Corps, a Certificate will be conferred to his Gold Star mother, Ms. Gloria Crothers;
- In remembrance of Captain Thomas Clifford Bland, Jr. of the United States Air Force, a Certificate will be conferred to his Gold Star mother, Ms. Deirdre McMahon; and
- In Remembrance of First Sergeant Lykisha T. Gooding of the United States Army, a Certificate will be received by Kappa Epsilon Psi Military Sorority.
With that, I would like to welcome Shae and Eugene back to the podium. May God bless the families of the fallen, our brave men and women who serve, and all those who uphold the strength and freedom of these United States – the great nation we call home.