Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

'Let's remember our veterans and pledge our vigilance'


Retired Maj. Gen. Monroe T. Smith reached deep into the cauldron of history to impress upon the audience at Tuesday's Veterans Day observance the importance of all veterans, no matter what country they have served.

"Veterans are sometimes necessary to the survival of a nation," said the 77-year-old retired Air Force officer, now living in Weeki Wachee, who served throughout the world for 37 years, including time in Vietnam.

In his speech at VFW Post 9236, Smith cited Rome, the longest reigning world ruler at 700 years. Roman senators led the legions, returning from battles up and down Italy, throughout what is now Europe, across the Middle East and into Africa. They returned as able governing veterans.

But the empire's fall began when rule was handed down by bloodlines, when inept emperors contracted out defense of its territories. Asking for seasoned veterans in the Senate to come to the rescue, the emperors found there were none.

"For the lack of veterans and leadership, Rome lost the ability and the will to fight," said Smith, an avid reader of Edward Gibbon's compilation The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

"Let's remember our veterans," he urged, "and pledge our vigilance to protect this nation. Let's never forget our allegiance to the Constitution."

America has a core today of more than 23-million veterans, Smith noted.

"We go off to fight wars and we come back veterans. We are ready, willing and able to do it again," he said.

In a brief personal mention, Smith said he called the Air Force and volunteered for the Persian Gulf War. "I was told we weren't in that much trouble," he said.

The VFW post and auxiliary recognized winners of its essay contest on the theme, "Why Should Veterans be Honored."

Kelsey Colasa, a 12-year-old student at Challenger K-8 School of Science and Mathematics, won a $400 scholarship for her written essay.

Jessica Garrett, 17, an entrant from Nature Coast Technical High School, earned a $500 award for her audio essay. She performed it for the audience of about 100, who gave her a standing ovation.

The Navy JROTC at Central High School provided a snappy color guard to open and close the ceremony.

Beth Gray can be contacted at

'Let's remember our veterans and pledge our vigilance' 11/11/08 [Last modified: Thursday, November 4, 2010 9:32am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. On the Camino de Santiago, Day 19: A peregrina spends the whole day under the weather, and part of the day under the table


    Day 19: El Burgo Ranero to Puente Villarente: 25.4 km, 7.5 hours (Total for Days 1-19 = 454 km (282 miles)

    This list pretty much sums up my day:

    Eat two bananas

    Walk 13.1 kilometers


    Walk 6.2 kilometers


    Eat half an apple

    Walk 6.1 kilometers

    Crash< …

  2. Storm routs Cleveland


    TAMPA — Alvin Ray Jackson intercepted two passes, returning one for a touchdown, and recovered two fumbles as the Storm routed Cleveland 57-27 Saturday night in its home regular-season finale at Amalie Arena.

  3. Miscue sends Rays to another stinging loss to Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays gave away DJ Kitty onesies Saturday night. Then they gave away the game.

    Rays centerfielder Mallex Smith misses a drive hit by Adrian Beltre with two outs in the sixth, allowing the tying runs to score. Beltre puts Texas ahead 4-3 when he scores after two wild pitches.
  4. Rowdies shut out Charleston


    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rowdies know a thing or two about stalemates, with five of their past 10 games ending in a draw.

    Rowdies in the first half during the game between Tampa Bay Rowdies and the Charleston Battery at Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Saturday, Jul 22, 2017.
  5. 13-year-old Janessa's father holds memorial service at Rogers Middle School


    RIVERVIEW — About 100 people sat in the tile-floored multipurpose room Saturday at Rodgers Middle School where Janessa Shannon once sat as a student.

    A mourner embraces Nahshon Shannon after the memorial service for Nahshon&#8217;s daughter, Janessa, Saturday at Rodgers Middle School in Riverview.