U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan
Seoul, Republic of Korea
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much, General Brooks. It is an honor to be with you today on this Easter Sunday, and let me invite a round of applause from all the great soldiers and their families who are gathered here for General Vincent Brooks, and the great leadership that he provides here to United States Forces Korea. (Applause.)
General, we are proud — grateful for your leadership.
To Chaplain Kim, to Chaplain Wasaki (ph), and to all of those who made the service so special to us, my daughter Audrey already told me that was one of the best sermons she’s heard in a year and a half. So what a special Easter sermon. (Applause.)
And we are just honored to be with you all today and looking forward just to some good food and to some good fellowship. But it is a pleasure to be with you today. On behalf of my wife, Karen, and our two daughters, happy Easter in South Korea. It’s a joy to be with you all. (Applause.)
I bring greetings this morning from your Commander-in-Chief, President Donald Trump. (Applause.) I spoke to the President early today, and I spoke to him on the way over. And he asked me to be here, and he told me in no uncertain terms to make sure that I told all of you we’re proud of you, and we are grateful for your service to the United States of America on this frontier of freedom that is South Korea. (Applause.)
In fact, I can say with confidence that every American is proud of your service here, and the attention that this part of the world has gotten from people back home is probably no surprise to all of you who are gathered here today. This morning’s provocation from the north is just the latest reminder of the risks each one of you face every day in the defense of the freedom of the people of South Korea and the defense of America in this part of the world.
Your willingness to step forward, to serve, to stand firm without fear inspires our nation and inspires the world. And it’s an honor for us to share this meal with you today. Thank you for your service. (Applause.)
And let me say, as the General mentioned, as proud parents of a United States Marine —
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Ooorahh! (Laughter.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: It is the greatest privilege of my life to serve as Vice President to a President who cares so deeply about the men and women of our armed forces and their families.
Now days like today make me think of the separation that comes at special times of the year for those who serve. And so would all of you in uniform join me in giving a rousing round of applause to the family members who are here and the family members far away. We appreciate their service and their support as you serve our nation in uniform. (Applause.)
And let me promise those family members and all of you in uniform here today that under President Trump’s leadership, we’re going to rebuild our military. We’re going to restore the arsenal of democracy. We’re going to give our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guard the resources you need and deserve to accomplish the mission you are given and come home safe. That’s a promise from your Commander-in-Chief. (Applause.)
This is a challenging time all over the world, but especially here in the Asia Pacific. The opportunity for me to be here today at such a time as this is a great privilege for me, but let me assure you under President Trump’s leadership, our resolve has never been stronger. Our commitment to this historic alliance with the courageous people of South Korea has never been stronger. And with your help and with God’s help, freedom will ever prevail on this peninsula. (Applause.)
But it is Easter Sunday, and as I look out at all these courageous Americans and courageous Koreans who are gathered here today, I’m deeply humbled. I truly am. We celebrate today what Karen and I and those of us gathered here recall as that Resurrection Sunday, and that worship service was so sublime.
But it puts me to mind of one of my favorite stories in the Old Book. It’s the story of a moment where the Nazarene encountered a soldier. The soldier walked up to him and told him that he had someone ill in his home, and he asked if he might take action to be helpful. And as Jesus began to walk with him, he said, no, you don’t need to come with me. He said, I’m a man under authority. He said, I tell one to do this and he does it. I tell another to do this and he does it. He said, you just say the word and that servant under my household will be healed.
The words that ever struck me from that story were there at that crossroads, the story recalls in a little town called Capernaum. It simply said that Jesus was amazed.
At no other point in any of the stories of his life do I hear that he was amazed, except when he was speaking to a soldier. Because he saw orientation to authority and he saw faith.
Let me say on this most holy of days, for those of us who claim Christ as Lord, we’re amazed too. We’re humbled. We look out today and we see courage writ large in the soldiers and the families who are gathered here.
And I just want to assure you on behalf of the people all across the United States that in these troubled times, in this part of the world, your courage and your valor still amazes the American people.
So we just wanted to come and say thank you, say thank you for your service, and thank you, General, for your leadership and the leadership and service of all those represented here, carrying on a tradition and a commitment to freedom here on this peninsula that is now more than six decades in the running; and succeeding far beyond those who carved this free society in this ancient land could possibly have imagined, perhaps, is the American soldier shoulder-to-shoulder with the Korean people who fought for and won the freedom more than six decades ago.
And I stand before you today very moved on this Easter Sunday because one of those soldiers more than six days ago — 60 years ago was my dad. As we landed today on the peninsula, I looked out at those rolling hills, and I thought about Second Lieutenant Edward J. Pence, who was with the 45th Infantry Division of the United States Army. Dad served here in combat. It was in this month — this very week — in 1953 that my dad was awarded a Bronze Star here in Korea for action in combat.
But like so many who have worn the uniform and come home, my dad didn’t think the heroes were the ones that came home. Whenever he spoke of his time here in Korea, he spoke of the ones that didn’t come home. He spoke of friends lost, sacrifices made. And so on this day I think of my dad, gone 29 years now, but still enshrined in the hearts of everyone in our family. And I think of what dad would be thinking about and I believe is thinking about as he looks down to see his third son return to that place that he left so many years ago, and to see that the sacrifices that were made here, and the commitment that endures here has resulted in a free and prosperous South Korea.
And so it shall ever be.
So for the sake of all of you who wear the uniform today, for the sake of all who have gone before, thank you for your service and happy Easter. (Applause.)
Now, the prayer-in-chief in our family is my wife, Karen. And she said that we could impose on her to maybe return thanks for this meal, and then we look forward to meeting as many of you as we have time to meet today.
So, everyone, my wife, Karen Pence. (Applause.)
MRS. PENCE: If you would bow with me. Heavenly Father, we thank you for your son who died on the cross for each one of us in this room. We thank you for the privilege of being able to fellowship today together. Thank you for the sacrifices of the families here. And in this Month of the Military Child, thank you for the sacrifices that the children make as well.
And, Lord, we just thank you as well for the hands that prepared this wonderful meal. We pray that you would bless our conversation and that you would just pour out your blessings on these amazing people in this amazing country.
In your son’s name we pray, amen.
AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Amen.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thanks, everybody.