Hi, My name is Nicole Citro and I am the creator of the Green Ribbons for the F35.
Thank you so much for coming here today to not only show your support for the basing of the F35 in VT but also to say Thank You to our Green Mountain Boys. This is awesome. I know all of us have been looking for the opportunity to show how significant our support is. I know we have all been frustrated by how much attention the opponents always receive, but you have to remember, even though their antics may make A story…it is not THE story. THIS is the real story, this is the truth…all of you here today showing not only that this community resoundingly supports their Green Mountain Boys, but also this community wants the F35 for Vermont.
I knew when I tied a green ribbon on my front porch last summer and launched the Green Ribbon campaign that the silent majority needed a voice. I wanted to give all of us who would never pick up a protest sign or march on a Senator’s office a way to show our numbers were mightier than theirs. And one green ribbon at a time you have responded. I remember the first time I was driving down the street and saw a green ribbon tied to a mailbox. I had not put it there. And it was in front of a home of someone I did not know…I almost cried I was so happy. I realized then that you were embracing this green ribbon idea, and you wanted to be heard too. Since July, I have personally cut and distributed over 2,000 ribbons (and have hugged more trees than I care to count tying up some of those ribbons) As of today, 2,700 Green ribbon decals have been purchased. Over 1,300 followers on Facebook. And there have been numerous times where a post of a F35 Fact or really cool picture of a F35 on our Facebook page has reached over 30,000 people. This is not the kind of support that can be denied. I cannot thank you enough for helping me take the Green Ribbons for the F35 campaign to where it is today. Another very important reason I started this campaign was for the members of the Air Guard. It was very upsetting to me to think that all the negativity surrounding this basing possibility was letting you believe for one minute you were not being appreciated by the residents of this state. This notion was unacceptable. I wanted this campaign to send you a special message, that when you drove down the street and saw a green ribbon tied to a mailbox, you would know…that your community, the people you work so hard to protect and sacrifice so much for, are here for you, we are behind you. Actually….We’ve got your 6.
And so does our congressional delegation, and our governor….and the mayor. We thank them for holding firm and expressing the wishes of the majority of their constituents. Every one of us agrees this new jet is right for the Guard and right for this community. We have all heard the rhetoric but we will not fall victim to the hype. We exercise our common sense. We know our property values will not plummet. They haven’t in the past and they will not in the future. And we know that 6 minutes a day 4 days a week will not have adverse effects on our health. This base has been here for over 60 years. We trust our good neighbor, the Vermont Air National Guard, we know when they are awarded this new jet they will continue to balance our needs with what is necessary to keep up safe.
And that is why it is so frustrating that there is a group of people do not appreciate what our military does for us. They live in an existence of denial about the realities of the world we live in post 911. They do not want to allow for our defense to be strong against enemies who detest us just because we are Americans. Before that September morning, none of us could have imagined a scenario where evil would invade us on our soil and strike us at our heart. On that day the fear and uncertainty was unlike anything we had experienced before. Our Nation was under attack and the threat was unknown. But the brave men and women of the 158th fighter wing did not hesitate for a milli-second to put in place all that they had trained and prepared for. And in those days after the Twin Towers fell, when the skies were void of airline traffic, the only sound we did hear were the F16’s coming and going from their patrols over the east coast. I remember how comforting it was to hear those jets, how anyone can describe that sound now as annoying or hurtful…I don’t understand…that is the sound that makes us feel safe, that is the sound that confirms for us we are being protected, that is the sound of our freedom. We must make sure our Air Guard has the equipment necessary to defend us and we must never forget.
It amazes me that there are those who do not realize what an incredible base we have in our midst. The Vermont Air National Guard is a preferred location for the F35!! You have worked so hard to achieve this level of consideration. We are so proud of you. This is the mission you have prepared for and you deserve this. This is your time….the F35 belongs with the 158th Fighter wing!!