In honor of Veterans Day, NAS Patuxent River Commanding Officer Capt. John Brabazon was the keynote speaker at a Nov. 7 event “honoring the veterans of the past by supporting our service men and women of today.”

The event, held at the site of the “On Watch” monument in Dowell, Maryland, began with Calvert Marine Museum Director Jeff Murray telling the crowd that, although he was never himself in the military, his father served as a Russian language specialist in Germany during the Vietnam era, his great-uncle served as a Jeep driver for a high ranking officer and drove across France and into Germany in 1944 and ‘45, and another great uncle lost his life when the B-24 he was piloting over the Pacific developed engine trouble and had to ditch in the ocean.

“I myself, as a 17-year-old exchange student, stood at the Berlin Wall and witnessed what life without freedom could look like,” said Murray, before introducing NAS Patuxent River Chaplain Lt. Clay Hamrick to give the invocation.

Hamrick reminded people to give thanks to veterans who sacrifice their futures as husbands, wives, fathers, and mothers, so that others can have a future.

“As Jesus said, ‘Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down their life for friends,’” said Hamrick during the prayer. “We ask that you continue to pour out your grace on us and instill brotherhood from sea to shining sea.”

Brabazon then addressed the crowd in attendance, noting that since our country’s founding, the Old Line State of Maryland has always played an integral part in the nation’s defense, and few places demonstrated that more than Solomons, the site of an active Amphibious Training Base from 1942-45 – what the On Watch monument memorializes – where 68,000 service members trained for amphibious landing and saw action in the European and Pacific Theaters.

“Here the techniques were modernized and perfected, and the fighting men of the day would find the steely nerve necessary to fight their way onto the beaches of those foreign countries,” Brabazon noted. “Skills learned here in Maryland might save their life in the weeks and months to come on a much more distant shore. We remember you.”

Brabazon also called out the Navy ships he saw represented on the ballcaps worn by veterans in attendance — USS Intrepid, USS Sea Robin and USS Francis Scott Key. Later, during the Recognition of Veterans, former service members from the Korean Conflict, Vietnam, the 1980s first Gulf War, as well as veterans of Iraq, Afghanistan and everything since that time, stood to applause from the audience.

The event wrapped up after Army veteran Jack Fringer laid a wreath in front of the monument, which is surrounded by bricks engraved with the names of service members who served their country during WWII.

As Murray reminded everyone, “These stories and thousands upon thousands of others that document the sacrifice our brave men and women make every day should be heard and understood by all citizens so that we never forget that freedom is most certainly not free. As Americans, we should all be eternally grateful for the sacrifices our service men and women — and their families — make and have made every single day.”