WASHINGTON, May 21, 2017 — The observance of Armed Forces Day is “merely one more installment on behalf of the American people on a debt of honor and the debt of gratitude we’ll never be able to fully repay to all of you who served,” Vice President Mike Pence told service members at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, yesterday.

“Today, in communities large and small on Main Streets and meeting halls, in homes, and in hearts, and in gatherings at military bases across the nation, the American people are taking a moment to pause, to say thank you to you heroes who protect our freedom, our families, and our very way of life,” Pence said.

The service members of today are part of a cord of service that stretches back throughout American history, the vice president said.

Keeping the Flame of Freedom Alive

“In every generation, the sons and daughters of liberty from every corner of our country have answered the call of duty and answered it with courage and self-sacrifice and commitment,” he added. “Their service and their sacrifice kept the flame of freedom alive in their time, and now you’ve stepped up and stepped forward to defend our freedom in your time.

“You are among the rest of us,” he continued, “but make no mistake about it: you are the best of us. And so are all of your brothers and sisters stationed around the wider world.”

Nearly 1.3 million Americans are serving in active duty in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, he said, noting that another 800,000 Americans stand ready in our reserves. “But wherever they are at home or abroad, the men and women of the armed forces of the United States stand stall and stand together,” Pence said. “And you form the unbreakable backbone of American freedom.”

The vice president also recognized military families for their contributions.

“The truth is that while our service members enlist, it’s a family that serves, isn’t it? It’s family that makes the sacrifices,” he said. “And know today that the family members who are here — the spouses, the children, the grandchildren — you have the gratitude of our commander in chief and every American.”

Pence pointed out that his son serves as a Marine Corps aviator.

“I couldn’t be more grateful as the proud parents of a member of our military to serve a President who is so dedicated to the men and women of our armed forces, their families, and our veterans. And I want to assure you, President Donald Trump is fighting tirelessly every day, and we will rebuild our military, restore the arsenal of democracy, and we will once again as a nation give our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guard the resources and training you deserve to accomplish your mission and come home safe.”

Fighting the Terrorist Threat

Pence pledged that the military would have the resources it needs to fight and defeat the terrorist threat to the nation posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. “And today, because of our armed forces,” he added, “I’m pleased to report ISIS is on the run, and we will not rest, we will not relent, until we hunt down and destroy ISIS at its source so you can eliminate the threat to our nation and to our allies in the years ahead.”

Earlier this month, the vice president told the audience, Trump signed a $21 billion increase in military funding. “It was the biggest investment in military readiness in nearly 10 years, and President Trump is working with leaders in Congress, like those that are gathered here today,” he said. “And in the coming budget that will be unveiled this next week, we’re going to propose the largest increase in defense spending since the days of Ronald Reagan.”

To wear the uniform of the United States of America is to earn the eternal appreciation and the prayers of the American people, the vice president said. “And be confident of this: on this Armed Forces Day, your commander in chief and every American who lives under the protection that you provide will stand up this day and simply offer a word of thanks. And we salute you for your service,” he added.