November 6, 2009
Gov. Nixon’s remarks at the ADT II Welcome Home Ceremony
Thank you, General Danner. Soldiers and airmen of ADT II, it is my distinct pleasure to welcome you home to Missouri.
There will be many special prayers of thanks this Thanksgiving in homes across the state, including my own, for your safe arrival.
You have served your country and your state honorably - and with distinction - in a part of the world where your constant vigilance, professionalism and courage were required.
While I am proud of all the units of our Missouri National Guard who are serving so ably, I feel a special connection with ADT II. Last July, I had the honor to visit these brave soldiers and airmen at their base in Afghanistan.
If only for a brief time, I was able to let them know in person how proud Missouri was of them and of the work they were doing - and how they would continue to have our support, even from thousands of miles away. I also could see firsthand how their training was enabling them to not only carry out their military mission, but also to work with the local Afghan people to help them become more self-sufficient.
Our state can be justly proud that the first Agri-Business Development Team was a Missouri National Guard unit. Even as ADT II has now come home and ADT III has taken its place, other states have seen the success of this program and have their own teams in Afghanistan to provide more help to the people of a country that has suffered so much over the last 30 years.
Of all the items that are on display in my office on the second floor of this capitol, there are four that have a special meaning to me, especially today.
One displays the framed shoulder insignia of the Missouri National Guard - that distinctive black silhouette of a grizzly bear on its hind legs.
The second is a photo in which I am standing together with the soldiers and airmen of ADT II and the Governor of Agriculture for Nangarhar Province. Even on such a blisteringly hot day, you can see how proud I am to be with this outstanding group of Missourians.
The third item is a plaque this unit gave me in Afghanistan showing the U.S. and Afghan flags, along with the words, "Governor Jay Nixon, Honorary Member, ADT 2, Missouri-Afghanistan, 2009."
Ladies and gentlemen, that is a title that honors, and humbles, me as much as any that I carry.
And finally, on the wall in the main reception area of my office is a large, framed flag of the state of Missouri. The placard on the frame proclaims that this flag was flown by the citizen-soldiers and airmen of ADT II over Forward Operating Base Finley-Shields in July 2009.
That flag also will always have a special place in my office, and in my heart. It represents how these courageous Missourians sitting before us went into harm's way when their country asked, without hesitation or complaint - just as generations of Missourians have done before them when duty called.
I want my remarks today to be brief, because your loved ones are anxiously waiting for you. But I close with these thoughts.
I ask that when you say your prayers of thanks for the safe return of the soldiers and airmen of ADT II, that you also pray for the safekeeping of those in ADT III, who are carrying on the fine work of the two ADT units before them; that you pray for those in our other Missouri National Guard units serving overseas; and that you pray for all the brave members of this nation's military who stand on the front lines for us.
You may know that the last two weeks have been particularly sad for Missouri's military community, as we have lost four soldiers within just a few days. Even today, our flags fly at half-staff to honor the memory of a young soldier from Malden. Please keep all our soldiers, airmen, sailors and Marines, and their families, in your thoughts and prayers.
And finally, with the remembrance of Veterans Day just a few days away, let us resolve again to honor all those who have proudly worn our nation's uniform as the heroes they truly are, and let them know how much we appreciate what they have done. Soldiers and airmen of ADT II, on behalf of the people of Missouri, I salute you for a job well done.
May God bless Missouri, and may God bless the United States of America.