Permission To Use The Following Speech
Given By The Official John McDermott Fan Club

John's Speech Given May 18th 2000
At the Celebration of the Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Act

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen And Honored Guests
Especially Vietnam Veterans Whose Service We Honor Today
I Am Proud To Be A Part Of This Important Celebration
I Thank The U.S. Department of Labor's Office Of Contract Compliance
For Inviting Me To Be Your Speaker Today

People Often Ask Me As An Irish Canadian Born In Scotland
With No Record Of Military Service
"Why Are You So Committed To The Cause Of American Veterans?"
I Suspect That Many Of You May Be Wondering The Same Thing

First I Have A Long Affiliation With An Amazing Group Back Home In Canada
They Are Called The War Amps Which is short for Amputees
Founded after World War I
When So Many Soldiers Came Home Missing Limbs
The War Amps Have Been Healing The Bodies And Minds Of Canadian Vets Ever Since

Also Because I Am Grateful For The Freedoms That I Have Secured For Me By Veterans Active Servicemen And Women
As The Son Of A World War II Veteran
I Have Learned That Service And Honor Should Remain
Even After A Veteran Has Retired His Uniform

Today We Put To Rest Forever The Undeserved Image Of The Vietnam Veteran
I Enthusiastically Join The Department Of Labor In Recognizing The Vietnam Vet As An Important Part Of The Nation's Work Force

As A Working Class Child Of The 1960's
I Remember Especially Those Young Men And Women That Were Seperated From Me By Only A Few Years Who Answered The Call To Service
Just As Young American's Have Done For 225 Years
The Vietnam War Changed An Entire Generation Of American's
Perhaps Only Now Twenty Five Years After The Last American Left Vietnam
Are We Truly Able To Appreciate Just How Deeply It Has Changed Our Lives

We Celebrate The Very Real Commitment Of A Government
To Those That Served It With
With Bravery
And With Decency

Today We Mark A Milestone For A Generation Of Veterans
Who Answered The Call In Spite Of The Tide Of Negative Public Opinion
Which Only Intensified While They Were Away In Combat
And Greeted Them Harshly When They Returned Home
It's Also Worth Noting That Canadians And Americans Stood Shoulder To Shoulder
Not Only In Vietnam
But In All Of The Great Wars And Conflicts Of The 20th Century
And That By Serving Together
We Created A Family Of Brothers And Sisters Which Knows "No Border"

Most Deeply Changed By War Of Course
Are Those Whose Loved Ones Never Came Home
Whose Loved Ones Made The Surpreme Sacrifice
And Lost The Opportunity To Hold An Infant
Grow Old With Dignity
And Share In The Prosperity That Is Guaranteed For All Of "Us"

My Belief In Society's Resposibility To Veterans
And My Confidence That All Veterans Have A Positive Contribution To Make
Have Driven My Own Work With Veterans

I Should Also Acknowledge The Influence Of The Many Remarkable Friend's I've Made In The Veterans Commmunity
Friends Like Tom Kelley A Vietnam Veteran And Congressional Medal Of Honor Winner
Who Is Now The Commissioner Of Veteran's Services In My Adopted Home Massachusetts
And Friends Like Tom Lyons
A Vietnam Vet And Proud Marine
Who Is Now Executive Director Of The New England Shelter For Homeless Veterans In Boston
These Are My Heroes Who Are Demonstrating That Service Does Not End With An Honorable Discharge

Too Often In The Rush Of Life These People Are Forgotten
Their Contibutions To Our Freedom Ignored
We Forget Too Easily And We Cannot
That Is Why I Have Dedicated My Time To Honoring Veterans And Military Employees

My First Experience With The Proud Community Of American Veterans Came Through My Friend Tom Lyons
Over Two Years Ago
Tom Introduced Me To The DC Housing Authority And The US Department Of Veterans Affairs
The Unique Partnering Of these Two Agencies
Has Produced A Vital New Option For DC Area Veterans On The Road To Self Sufficiency
Obviously Employment Was An Important Step For Veterans Making The Transition Back To Civilian Life In 1975
And It's An Important Step For Veterans Making The Transition From Homelessness Addiction And Other Illnesses Today

Of All The Accolades And Awards I've Received Thoroughout My Career
I Have To Say My Greatest Honor Was The Opening Last Year Of McDermott House
A Transitional Housing Cooperative For Veterans In Washington D.C.
McDermott House Is A Place Where Once Homeless Veterans Can Receive The Support And Services That They Need To Take The Next Step Into Permanent Housing
Into A New Job Away From Helplessness And Addiction
McDermott House Provides An Address To A Community Of Up To 30 American Veterans
So That They Can Be Assured Of The Benefits That They Have Earned Through Service
Those Qualities Of Service And Perserverance Will Serve Us All As We Help Put Veterans To Work

It Is My Firm Intention To Partner With Other Organizations And Agencies Across The Country
To Create Similar Facilities That Will Help Ensure "All Veterans" Have Access To The Dignity That They Deserve Through Shelter Employment And Other Services

Toward That End I've Established A NonProfit Foundation In My Mothers Name
The Hope McDermott Fund

When My Mother Passed Away In January Of This Year
I Realized Just How Much That I Had Learned From Her About Courage And Compassion
Qualities In No Short Supply In This Country's Veteran Community
My Mother Also Taught Me The Importance Of Remembering
As She Often Related Stories About Her Brother Michael
Michael Died Of Cholera In A Japanese Prison Camp In World War II

In My Travels I've Met Thousands Of Women Veterans And The Loved Ones Of Veterans Through Organizations Like The Gold Star Mothers and Gold Star Wives
Women That Have Been Touched By War
I Am Convinced That America's Proud Tradition Of Military Service Owes A Great Deal To Women
The Hope McDermott Fund Is My Way Of Acknowledging That Debt

Thank You

And On This day
Thank You
Especially To Vietnam Veterans
Whose Contributions To This Great Nation
Will Be Measured For Generations To Come

Please Visit John McDermott's Official Fan Club Web Site

Watch And Listen Carefully
So You Won't Miss Your Blessings

The Man Whispered
"God Speak To Me"
And A Meadowlark Sang
But The Man Did Not Hear

So The Man Yelled
"God Speak To Me"
And The Thunder Rolled Across The Sky
But The Man Did Not Listen

The Man Looked Around And Said
"God Let Me See You"
And A Star Shined Brightly
But The Man Did Not Notice

And The Man Shouted
"God Show Me A Miracle"
And A Life Was Born
But The Man Did Not Know

So The Man Cried Out In Despair
Touch Me God And Let Me Know That You Are Here
Whereupon God Reached Down And Touched The Man
But The Man Brushed The Butterfly Away And Walked On

Don't Miss Out On A Blessing
Because It Isn't Packaged The Way That You Expect

Author Unknown

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