Every year, Staples assistant principal Rich Franzis — an Iraq War veteran — is asked to find a student to give the Veterans Day address at Town Hall.
This year’s selection was a no-brainer: Staples soccer tri-captain and U.S. Naval Academy-bound senior Sean Gallagher.
After apologizing for his haircut — a Mohawk, in the style favored by many Wreckers at state tournament time — Gallagher said:
Like many kids of my generation, my grandfather served in World War II. He was a navigator in the 8th Air Force who carried out multiple bombing missions in B-24 bombers. He even participated in the Battle of the Bulge, and later was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his services.
And yet for all his incredible accomplishments, he never once spoke of the war. It wasn’t until weeks after my grandfather passed away that my family discovered his Distinguished Flying Cross. It was handed down to my father, and now sits in my room as a token of inspiration. He never forced others to acknowledge his accomplishments or give him praise for everything he did; to him he was merely serving his duty as an American. That’s what makes veterans so special.
For me Veterans Day has always been a special day, because it commemorates the bravest men and women of this country, those who have answered the call to serve. I have seen what generations of brave Americans have done for this country; after all I live in an incredible town that provides the freedoms every human should be awarded. Growing up in Westport gives tribute to what veterans have done for this country.
Attending Staples High School has given me the opportunity to become anything I desire to be. However, the only plan I have after high school at this time is to serve in the armed forces. I have not earned the amazing life I have been given; men and women who served in the past have earned it for me. I wish to repay the country that has given me this life.
Next year I will be attending the United States Naval Academy, in hopes of earning a commission as an officer in the Navy or Marine Corps. I desire to graduate college serving my country, because my country has given me a life full of freedoms unearned. I wish to honor those who have served before me by giving back to the country that has given me so much.
Veterans Day is important for this country, because veterans like yourselves deserve this recognition greatly.
One quote that has stuck with me throughout my life was said by a former president and five star general. Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid.”
I love this quote because it is incredibly true, and gives testament to the difficult task our soldiers are burdened with. The care of freedom is rightly esteemed the most important ideal we as Americans have fought for. It is a grave responsibility that was once put in your hands, which makes it incredibly difficult to thank someone for.
This is why it is tough to express the true appreciation I have for every veteran of this country. It may be difficult to articulate the true gratitude all of us have for the years of service a veteran has given. But in the end all any of us can do is say two simple words: Thank You.
Thank you for the years of your life you have given to defend this country. Thank you for sacrificing your ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice theirs. Thank you for putting your own life on the line so that others may live. Thank you for everything you have done and everything you have inspired me to work towards. Thank you very much.