“We owe unending gratitude to the members of our United States Armed Forces,” said Higgins, from a podium next to Founder’s Bell.
Higgins called special attention to veterans of World War II; fewer than 250,000 survive of the 16 million who served in the global conflict, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
“They were very humble men and women. They won the greatest war in human history,” he said. “They didn’t spike the ball – they were just grateful the war had ended.”
Veterans shape the world in peacetime, too, the congressman remarked – recounting the contributions of veterans in helping rebuild many cities in Europe and the Pacific ravaged during wartime in the 20th century.
In his remarks, the congressman also pointed out the particular poignance of this year’s holiday.
“For the first time in 20 years,” he said. “America is not involved in a war in Afghanistan.”
Not far from the ceremony, in the shadow of Rosary Hall, a sapling was planted in honor of men and women of uniform.
“The one thing that unites us is our humanity. We need each other. Our futures are tied to each other,” said Higgins. “If we work together, we can avoid horrible wars from happening again.”