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On this Veteran's Day, I'd like to share a letter that a constituent of mine recently found in the papers of her father, a WWII vet. It looks like it was send to all soldiers discharging from the Army at the end of the war. (1)
The author, General Jonathan Wainwright, was a Medal of Honor winner and survivor of the Bataan Death March in the Philippines. He was present on the USS Missouri when Japan surrendered. (2)
He wrote: "You have seen, in the lands where you worked and fought and where many of your comrades died, what happens when the people of a nation lose interest in their government." (3)
"You have seen what happens when they follow false leaders. You have seen what happens when a nation accepts hate and intolerance. We are all determined that what happened in Europe and in Asia must not happen to our country." (4)
"Start being a leader as soon as you put on your civilian clothes. If you see intolerance and hate, speak out against them. Make your individual voices heard, not for selfish things, but for honor and decency among men, for the rights of all people." (5)
"Remember, too, that no American can afford to be disinterested in any part of his government, whether it is county, city, state or nation. Choose your leaders wisely - that is the way to keep ours the country for which you fought." (6)
This is what we told our servicemen and women who returned home after defeating Hitler. They did their part in the decades to come. Now we must do ours. (7)
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