August 18th marked the Centennial Celebration of Washington state’s largest military installation, Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Speaking before a formation of Soldiers and Airmen at Watkins Field, Lt. Governor Habib opened the event’s speaking program with a tribute to the legacy of service that Joint Base Lewis-McChord represents to Washington state. The Lt. Governor also presented a plaque on behalf of the state to Joint Base Lewis-McChord in honor of the historic event.
Joint Base Lewis-McChord has played a major role in shaping the economy and history of Washington state, and in contributing to the military readiness of the United States. Joint Base Lewis-McChord is the Department of Defense’s largest operational joint base, and is Washington state’s 2nd largest employer. Since its inception as an Army base in 1917, Joint Base Lewis-McChord has trained and deployed soldiers for World War I and II, the Korean War, the Viet Nam War, and the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.
In his spoken remarks, the Lt. Governor recognized the historical and economic impacts of Joint Base Lewis-McChord on Washington state, but emphasized the importance of recognizing a larger truth: that the American dream is only possible because of the service of our military.
“We know that when all else fails – when diplomacy fails, when economic measures fail — we know we’ve got these men and women, and we know they’ve got our backs,” the Lt. Governor said.
The Lt. Governor went on to explain his personal appreciation of military service, saying that servicemembers’ selflessness gives him hope in our country’s future. On the front lines of combat, the Lt. Governor said, soldiers cooperate with one another and embody a selflessness that overcomes political, religious, and ethnic divisions. The joint base itself, which in 2010 combined the Fort Lewis Army base and the McChord Air Force Base, exemplifies an ability to collaborate for the common cause of service and security.
Finally, the Lt. Governor asserted the necessity of supporting returning veterans, both at a state and federal level. It is the job of everyone in government, the Lt. Governor said, to assist veterans with the transition to civilian life – so that every servicemember may feel that they can make Washington their home. On this note, the Lt. Governor concluded his speech with a quote from our state’s namesake and our country’s founder, George Washington, who said this about supporting veterans:
“The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by our nation.”