Well to start off, the flags were at half-staff on Sunday, 4 October. Most of us don’t really know why, but you are going to find out (and you just may remember). This is National Firefighter Memorial Day. It is a day to honor those brave men and women who have lost their lives while trying to save others. 57 died in 2019. So far this year we have lost 67 brave firefighters. Just recently it was announced that the 200th firefighter from 9-11 just passed away. These heroes have suffered for 19 years with various illnesses. God Bless these brave souls.
To take action after 9-11, there is another event that we should remember. 9 October 2001. This was the start of Operation Enduring Freedom-Afghanistan. We went in to punish the people responsible for the 9-11 tragedy that killed 2977 Americans, 125 of those at the Pentagon. We are still in Afghanistan today, but we have finally started to make a withdrawal. Since 2001 in Afghanistan and 2003 in Iraq, there have been almost 2.5 million active service members and Reserve or Guard members who have served in those two areas.
Anchors Aweigh. The fight song of the Naval Academy and the march song of the U S Navy was composed in 1906. It actually is a term that is Weigh Anchors, or lift them in preparation of “getting under way.” The song was first played at the 1906 Army-Navy football game. Hard to believe… but the Navy actually won the game 10-0 in front of 30,000 fans. First win over Army since 1900, so the song must have done some good!! Why are we talking about the Navy? Because on Tuesday, 13 October the U S Navy celebrates 245 glorious years of service to our country. The Navy was formed in 1775 by the Continental Congress. They asked for “one swift sailing vessel with 10 guns and 80 men” who would cruise for three months. (Note: our own Shorty Barnett was one of this original crew after being shanghaied from the cedar breaks of Travis County). After the war, this naval force was disbanded and then re-established again as the Department of the Navy in 1798. The current Navy has about 345,500 active sailors, 59,000 Naval Reserves, and almost 200,000 civilian employees. They will have approximately 301 ships by the end of 2020. The goal is to have a force of not less than 355 ships to include 12 Aircraft Carriers, 66 attack subs, and 12 ballistic missile subs. This is a long way from one sailing craft and 80 sailors in 1775!
We are very proud of our U S Navy and all of our sailors past and present. They have a huge and very important mission, not the least of which is to gives the Marines a ride into battle. A very Happy Birthday to them!
On Sunday, 18 October we “Recognize the Women Who Have Served in Military Service.” Currently about 9% of our service members are women veterans. By the year 2045 it is estimated that this figure will double to about 18%. In 2016, we had about 1.9 million women veterans. This will increase to 2.2 million by 2045. We need to remember and thank all of our women warriors for all that they do and will continue to do for our country. Thank you very much.