November 11, 2018

Duckworth Honors Our Nation’s Veterans at City of Chicago Veterans Day Ceremony


[CHICAGO, IL] —U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) honored Veterans today at the City of Chicago’s Annual Veterans Day Ceremony. Duckworth, a combat veteran and a former Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, joined Illinois Army National Guard Brigadier General Mark C. Jackson to celebrate the courage of our nation’s Veterans.

A full copy of Duckworth’s remarks as prepared for delivery are below:

Hello everyone! Thank you for inviting me here this afternoon.

I would also like to recognize some of the distinguished guests here: Brigadier General Mark Jackson, Alicia Tate-Nadeau, Aldermen of the Chicago City Council and, finally, all the Veterans, servicemembers and families here today.

Please stand, if you are able, and be recognized.

You may have come from different branches and different backgrounds, but you all hold the same sense of duty—the same commitment to our nation.

It’s my privilege to be with you this morning, as we celebrate you, your loved ones and every brave man and woman who sacrifices and puts their own lives on the line to protect our democracy.

Just as Americans have done since a group of patriots stood their ground at Lexington and Concord.

And just as millions more did when they went overseas, dove into the trenches and brought peace back to Europe’s shores, ending World War I 100 years ago today… leading to the first Veterans—or Armistice—Day one year later.

I’ve witnessed the courage of our American heroes firsthand.

In fact, I’m alive because of it.

14 years ago tomorrow, an RPG tore through the cockpit of my Blackhawk.

It was a lucky shot for the enemy. One of my legs was vaporized and the other sheared off by the instrument panel.

I was quite literally in pieces.

When we managed to land, my buddies thought I was dead—but they still wouldn’t give up on me.

Even though their own lives were on the line, they carried me, dropped me, picked me back up again and kept me alive until I could get medical attention.

And thanks to them, I survived.

So now I live my life trying to find ways to be worthy of their sacrifice… theirs and every other person’s who’s put on the uniform.

The truth is, this country can never repay the debt we owe you.

But it’s on us to try.

It’s on us to make sure we don’t just pat your back on Veterans Day—but honor you on the other 364 days of the year, too.

That means making it easier for Veterans to access the benefits they’ve earned and the health care they need... easier to go to school and find good-paying jobs… and easier to afford safe housing, too.

And it means passing legislation like the kind I introduced last year to ensure that the men and women willing to wear our uniform aren’t deported by the same nation they risked their lives to defend.

So 14 years after getting shot down, I spend every day trying to continue serving this nation in any way I can—working to honor my buddies who saved me in that dusty battlefield that afternoon.

Because I can’t and I won’t waste this second chance they gave me.

To each of them, to all of my fellow Veterans and all of your families, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

You are true heroes. You are my heroes.

God bless you, God bless our troops in harm’s way and God bless the United States of America.