The commitment of America's finest was honored Monday morning at a Veterans Day program at the Ardmore Veterans Center. With the sun shining through the crisp morning air, area residents and high school students attended the program, which was overflowing in attendance.

Maj. Larry K. Martin, U.S. Army (Ret.), served as the guest speaker. In his opening remarks, he noted the United States of America is the finest and most free nation and one of the reasons is the diversity of its citizens. He also said diversity has helped shape the U.S. military as the greatest in the world.

Martin gave credence to the statement through his personal experience and recalled a tour in Vietnam. He joined a unit, which was reduced to three of its 16 helicopters, as well as a significant loss of mechanics. Working together with men from different backgrounds, the unit passed an inspection by the Inspector General. He credited the work of non-commissioned officers and enlisted men and talked about two things he learned as an officer in the service.

"If you have good people working for you, get the heck out of the way and let them do their job," Martin said. "I also learned NCO's run the army, not the officers."

The military has changed since Martin served, as he noted it is now all-volunteer. But it is the best led, best trained and best educated. He closed in recalling a comment by General George Patton, "Americans love to fight."

"I disagree that all Americans love to fight," Martin said. "Americans are a peaceful people, but when we are pushed this country will join together and fight. And we will win."

In preliminary statements, Adm. Wesley Hull, NOAA (Ret.), mentioned veterans that have been honored at previous programs and passed away recently. He also paid tribute to all those that have served and paid the ultimate sacrifice, noting the recent attack on the consulate in Benghazi.

"I think one of the best things I saw today are the young people that came out and supported the veterans," Rep. Pat Ownby, (R-Ardmore) said. "This kind of opens the eyes of those young people to the sacrifices that have been made. It's so important every generation understand those sacrifices veterans have made."

Michael Pineda