Caldwell County hosted a ceremony at the courthouse Wednesday to mark Veterans Day, a day to honor those who served in the military. What follows is the text of the speeches given by the guest speakers of the event: Princeton Mayor Kota Young, County Clerk Toni Watson and County Attorney Roy Massey IV.

Kota Young

“Today, we honor those brave men and women who have taken up the mantle of freedom, liberty and peace by serving in the Armed Forces of the United States of America. To these courageous Americans, we owe a debt that can never be repaid. On this most solemn of days, we stop as a nation to express our gratitude.

“From the bottom of my heart and on behalf of a grateful city, thank you. Thank you for service, for your sacrifice, for your family’s sacrifice. You have earned your place as American heroes through your blood, sweat and tears, along with all the enduring glory and honor you so richly deserve.

“We also take a moment to remember those heroes among you who are no longer with us that have passed on to an even greater glory. Though they may be gone, their memories remain in the hearts of an eternally grateful nation.

“We also remember those men and women currently serving in our thoughts and in our prayers as they work to protect and preserve the blessings of peace and prosperity for free peoples everywhere, to carry on the proud tradition of today’s veterans and to keep the torch of liberty burning for this generation and generations to come, because no matter how hard-fought the victory nor how precious the price, peace is never secure while evil remains in the world.

“On this day, just over a century ago, we celebrated the first Veterans Day, the thing called Armistice Day to recognize the end of ‘The War to End All Wars,’ what we now call World War I. A war-torn world was promised an enduring peace, and yet, less than a generation later, the grand armies of the republic were again marching across the world, free men and women confronting an evil even greater than that which was vanquished just decades before.

“Peace is fleeting. There will always be evil in this world; there will always be those who would wish to see us fall. The only thing standing between us and them is the American soldier. The only reason we are able to gather here to exercise our God-given rights is because of the American soldier who holds the line today and the American veteran who held the line yesterday.

“I know the world can seem like an uncertain place at times. I know it can feel like our country is being torn apart at the seams, but I’m not afraid and neither should you be.

“On this Veterans Day, let us remember what our country is truly built upon: a foundation of freedom sealed with the sacrifices of the American soldier — a soldier who stands against the world for you and I and for a freedom worth fighting for.

“May God continue to bless our soldiers and our veterans, and may God continue to bless and keep these United States of America.”

Toni Watson

“I know how proud I am of veterans in my family that served. I had a grandfather that served in World War I stateside. My father, John Laceon Watson, served in the South Pacific during World War II; his name hangs on the roll at the VFW.

“…My son served eight years in the Army Reserves. His unit was on active duty during Desert Storm. His unit was not called up, but I know how proud I was of him that he was ready to serve and to uphold the oath that he had taken.

“During those days, I prayed double-time, not knowing what was going to happen, and it made me realize just what my mother, my grandmother and my aunts went through during the war.

“Today, I also want to honor all of the family members of our veterans and soldiers who are out there that stand and stood so strong during the battle.

“I know that the freedoms that we hold so dear are because of our veterans. I know that we speak English because of our veterans. I know that we have the choice to worship as we choose because of our veterans. I know that the opportunities that we have in this great country is because of our veterans. I know that our veterans should receive the best medical care available. I know there should be no homeless vets. I know that I say ‘No more’ when our wonderful flag is spit on, stomped on and burned. I know that I say ‘No more’ when the statues honoring our veterans are defaced and torn down. I know I say ‘No’ to those who run our great country to implement Communism or socialism, the very idea that so many of our veterans have fought for — and many have given their lives for. I know that it’s up to us to teach our young people how much we owe our veterans, that we all realize the deep gratitude that we in our nation owe our veterans for the sacrifices that they have made.

“My prayer is that God will continue to bless the United States of America, our leadership and our veterans and that Old Glory continues to wave proudly for many, many, many more years to come.”

Roy Massey IV

“I just want to take this brief moment to say thank you to all the men and women in our community that have served in the past, are currently serving or who will serve in each of our branches of the U.S. military.

“Here in Caldwell County, we are blessed to have many veterans in our community of all ages, all types of service backgrounds. I myself have been lucky enough to call our veterans friends, neighbors, coworkers. In my capacity as county attorney or prosecuting attorney, I had the ability to work with veterans each and every day, and I truly cannot think of a career or a profession that deserves more recognition or more honor than our veterans.

“It takes a special, special individual — almost a calling — for someone to decide to serve our country. … I myself, the citizens of Caldwell County, our state, our country — we each owe the freedoms that we have today, tomorrow and the future to veterans just like those standing among us this afternoon. I simply want to say ‘Thank you for your service in the past, present and in the future’ on behalf of myself, my family and the county attorney and all the citizens of Caldwell County.

“There is a quote from George Washington that I want to leave you with, and I think this best says how Veterans Day should be memorialized. He read, ‘The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war — no matter how justified — shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation of fellow men.’

“So, please, just take today to tell a veteran how much you appreciate their service, whether it be past service, present or future service.”