Mr. McEachin’s full remarks, as prepared for delivery:
The cruelty of war has taken away John McCain’s ability to salute the flag – the flag that he so staunchly defended. I’ve just done so to honor him.
To those who do not understand, permit me to say: Country first… country last… country always.
John McCain may not be able to salute the flag, but it can be dipped in his honor by passing parades on Inauguration Day. I hope to be off somewhere saying, as I have said on other occasions…
On days of remembrances past, I have borne in mind that last full measure of devotion of which Abraham Lincoln so eloquently spoke at Gettysburg.
From shadowed lanes and far-away roads, I have looked off and I have seen the symmetrical obedience of numberless headstones that stand like dwarfed sentries for the honored dead.
I say to you, Mr. and Mrs. America, I say to your sons and daughters — I say to all who are privileged to be within these borders — one cannot help but be touched by the price of our liberties, humbled by graves that stretch from coast to coast. On this day of tribute and remembrance, lo a day backed by the trembling winds of yet another war, voices of doubt and dissent have pushed me to a place beyond the site of graves and I find myself now moving along stark, sobering corridors, dedicated to the living who has sacrificed much for democracy’s cause.
I find myself in a hospice for the American veteran.
Swept amid remnants of wars old and new, the sorrowing consequences of battle ever so evident, I pray — oh, how I pray there never again be this need for war; but if, in the final hour, war we must, let it be for the principles for which our forefathers stood, for the freedoms for which this God-anointed nation has been ordained to stand.
Then, when in observance of the toll of war, or whether in ceremony of the great gift of freedom, it is those strident voices of doubt and dissent to whom I shall first look, and I will pray that we unite as one, and that over and over, and over and over again, we give thanks to the American veteran…defenders of freedom.
And holding dear the memory of the dead and the unaccounted for, I shall further pray that none among us forget those whom I see here in this place, and in walks and hospices the country over — those who once stood tall for democracy — for the precious right to speak freely, but are now moving — infirmly and without grace — down the long, long corridors of duty, honor, and gallantry; going their separate way; silent of deeds and sacrifice, yet ever and ever, in a special kind of way, still giving their all to say to us all;
No veterans, no democracy; no democracy, no America.”