General Johnson speaks at local Veteran’s Day Program 2021
By Kendall Patterson
Each year on November 11, Americans honor veterans of the United States throughout history. Veterans, regardless of the war they fought, regardless of their military rank and regardless of the branch they served in, all deserve recognition, thanks and honor for their service.
Veteran Major General Paul T. Johnson, United States Air Force (retired) joined the community’s Veteran’s Day Program last Thursday as the guest speaker.
General Johnson, who retired in 2016 after 31 years of active service, recently moved to Henderson. General Johnson is one of only 196 persons in the history of the US Air Force to receive the Air Force Cross, the nation’s second highest award for valor, as an A-10 pilot during Operation Desert Storm in Iraq in 1991.
His Veteran’s Day message was directed toward the veterans in attendance.
“We all kind of get painted with the same brush. You’re a veteran. You’re a veteran. You’re a veteran but… we’ve all got very different experiences in our service to the nation,” he said. “The service we were a part of are all very different. The jobs that we held while we were in service were all very different… Maybe it’s a thing of fond remembrance. Maybe it‘s not.”
He stated how the differences even extend to the military branches.
“Our cultures really could not be more different, and their services should celebrate that. We should be proud of that and we are and that’s the way it should be,” Johnson said.
Despite the many differences, the call to serve the nation unites them all.
“Although we get painted with the same brush, we know how different we are in our military experience, yet, there’s some things that bind us together… we’re part of something bigger than ourselves. That would probably be a universal reaction for any veteran in the crowd,” Johnson said. “At some point in my life I was a part of something bigger than myself. That when I raised my hand, it became service above self.”
General Johnson said that unity goes further than the call of duty.
“Regardless of our service, regardless of our specialty code, regardless of our unit that we were in, regardless of our strengths is that at some point we all depended upon each other,” he said.
Though they no longer serve, Johnson said that there is something he believes the country still needs out of them.
“What do we offer a nation that right now is pretty contentious and pretty divided? Is there anything we can offer? I’d say yeah there is. It’s one to acknowledge, first of all, there’s a lot of differences in the country and to acknowledge differences exist. They really do; and to acknowledge the differences are real. They’re real differences. But also remember at the end of the day we’re all still Americans,” he said. “As much as I might disagree with another service, I’ll never call the Army the enemy. I’ll never call the Navy the enemy… Sometimes we want to call our fellow Americans our enemies and I think as veterans, we can acknowledge that now we can disagree with each other and we can acknowledge we do feel very different about what we think is the right thing to do but acknowledge that everybody’s trying to do what is right for America.”