During the first-ever virtual Stand Up for Heroes event for veterans, presented by the Bob Woodruff Foundation and the New York Comedy Festival, Prince Harry delivered a special message for those who have served and reflected on his own time in the military. The royal served in the British Army for 10 years and completed two tours in Afghanistan.
“(My military) experience changed my life forever and for the better,” Harry said.
“It changed how I viewed sacrifice and service. I was born into a life of duty, but it was during my decade in the army that I committed to a life of service.”
The duke went on to say that he would always be part of the military team, and paid tribute to those he met while serving.
“My experience in the military made me who I am today – and it also connected me with some of the strongest, funniest and most memorable people I've ever met,” he said.
“Once we join this team, we are always part of this team. Once we've served, we are always serving, and proudly so.”
Harry, who set up the Invictus Games competition for injured servicemen and women in 2014, added that he wanted to “honour the legacy” of the men and women who give up so much by joining the military, from time with family to birthdays and even births missed.
“Some lost their limbs and others lost their lives. It's for that reason that I created the Invictus Games,” he said. “To give injured servicemen and women a platform to excel and reaffirm their values of resilience, of community and strength, which are inherent in each and every one of us.”
He also spoke of the challenges people have faced during the global pandemic, acknowledging that 2020 has been “has been and continues to be incredibly hard” for everyone.
“But we've also seen incredible resilience and purpose,” he said. “As far as I see it, service is what happens in the quiet and in the chaos. It's what happens when people aren't looking and it's about how we take care of each other every single day.”
Harry concluded his speech by expressing his gratitude to those who have served and to “our loved ones for the unwavering support”, adding: “The leadership and values that are represented in this community, our community, are more important now than ever before.”
Stand Up for Heroes launched in 2007 as the brainchild of Bob and Lee Woodruff and New York Comedy Festival founders Caroline Hirsch and Andrew Fox to honour the nation's injured veterans and their families.
The comedy event helps fundraise for military veterans in the US and has so far raised more than $55m (£41m) to support service members.
Prince Harry joined a list of big names in entertainment for this year’s virtual event, including musicians Bruce Springsteen and Sheryl Crow, and comedians such as Ray Romano and Tiffany Haddish.
In honour of Remembrance Day in the UK this month, Harry and Meghan visited the Los Angeles National Cemetery.
The couple laid flowers that were picked from their garden at the gravesites of two commonwealth soldiers, one who had served in the Royal Australian Air Force and one from the Royal Canadian Artillery.
They also placed a wreath at an obelisk in the cemetery which featured a plaque inscribed with the message: “In Memory of the Men Who Offered Their Lives in Defense of Their Country.”
Harry also signed a message with the wreath, writing: “To all of those who have served, and are serving. Thank you.”
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