|My Rolling Thunder 2000 Speech
|On May 28, 2000 I spoke at the Reflecting Pool in Washington D.C.
This is the speech I gave...
I wish that I could have been there when every one of you returned home. The first things I
would have said to you would have been "Thank You" and "Welcome Home". Even though
I wasn't there then, I am here now and I know it's not too late to say "Thank you from the
bottom of my heart and Welcome Home."
People ask me how I got started doing the things I have done and I ask them how they
can do nothing. Why I got started is simple: because I care. Two years ago, at my school, I
met Mr. Kridlo, a decorated WWII Veteran who landed at Utah Beach on D-Day. I started to
visit him at our VA Center and the more I visited him, the more questions I would ask my
mom. Because of him and with my mom's help I learned about our World Wars, Korea,
Desert Storm and of a war in Vietnam.
When I learned that there were soldiers left behind, I was very sad. I was just as sad
when I learned how our Vietnam Veterans were treated when they returned, by the people
they served. I knew that I couldn't do everything, but, I also knew that I had to do
I adopted eight Heroes from Vietnam who never came home. One of my POW/MIA's, Sgt.
Arlie Mangus, is very special to me. I have met his family and I talk to his mother often.
She is a wonderful mother who does not deserve this, none of the mother's do.
Since then, I was a volunteer at The Moving Wall for seven days with the Tarentum VFW
Post 5758, I was proudly on the field at Three Rivers Stadium with the POW'S who returned
from WWII, I participated in a 26 hour vigil on POW/MIA National Recognition Day with the
Vietnam Veterans, Inc. of Pittsburgh, and I marched in the Veterans Day Parade in
Pittsburgh. At a ceremony in Scranton, about six hours away from my house, I presented
several POW's with a plaque honoring them for their service as an American POW and I
visit the Veterans in our VA Hospitals and Centers. In March I had the opportunity to
personally hand Vice President Al Gore a letter telling him that we must remember the
promises made to our Veterans and that it's about time we bring our POW/MIA's home,
because they have been left behind too long. I never got a response to my letter, guess
that's one of my first lessons in politics.
I have a web site dedicated to my POW/MIA's and all Veterans. My site has won 12
awards and I have heard from 42 states and 4 countries. I am an official member of the
Vietnam Veterans, Inc. and have been honored by my Borough Council, the District VFW,
the State Commander of the American Legion, the American Legion Youth Achievement
Committee, also by the Governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Ridge and I am now an honorary
Junior Member of Rolling Thunder. All of these things are very special to me, but I would
give back every one of them if our government would bring back my Heroes and keep the
promises made to all of you, the Veterans of this country.
Many of you don't believe that you are a Hero, but to me, you were and still are America's
finest. They say that the greatest generation was during World War II and I understand
that. But during this century, I believe that the greatest generation is yet to come. Because
of what all of you have shared with me, I am proudly leading the way. I will make sure that
everything you have done for this country and our POW/MIA's will continue, that the
promises made to you are kept and that our POW/MIA's are brought back to the USA
where they belong.
I can never thank you enough and I know that I could never re-pay you, for the sacrifices
that you made. For what you have done for me, I salute you.....I will never forget!