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Joseph: A blank check from our veterans

Posted: November 12, 2015 6:08 p.m.
Updated: November 13, 2015 1:00 a.m.

At the end of World War I, fighting ended when an armistice, or temporarily cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. For that reason, Nov. 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.” In November 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.” Thirty-five years later, after the horrors of World War II and after Europe had begun to heal, President Dwight Eisenhower declared November 11 would be known as Veterans Day and would be a day to honor those who had returned home. 

For the past 96 years on this day, we have honored our veterans for their patriotism, love of country and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good. This day gives us the opportunity to recognize and celebrate those men and women who have worn a military uniform -- the soldiers, the sailors, the airmen, the coast guardsmen. They have all fought boldly to defeat tyranny and terror, and safeguard the liberties we hold most dear. It is immensely important for us to always acknowledge and respect the service of those who have kept us and continue to keep us safe, whether they rushed the beaches of Normandy, fought in the jungles of Vietnam, or battled in the sands of Iraq or the mountains of Afghanistan. Their service we honor includes combat and non-combat roles, both equally important in obtaining the goal set before them, in wartime and in peace. 

Lt. Col. George Goodson of the U.S. Marine Corps said it best in defining what a veteran is: “A veteran is someone who, at one point, wrote a blank check made payable to ‘The United States of America’ for an amount of ‘up to and including their life.’” On Veterans Day and every day, we must always remember those who wrote that check. We must thank our military for their service to our country. We must remember no other person in America contributes to our freedom, our way of life like that of a soldier, the one who stands their post and puts themselves in between danger and the rest of us, and does it with such selflessness and humility. 

Our obligation to our veterans goes beyond the battlefield and their years of service. It continues on. Going from soldier to citizen can be a time of uncertainty and fear. It is at this junction the roles are reversed and where we deliver the service, the service we have promised and the service our veterans deserve. There is no end date for caring for our veterans. We must educate our children on this vital task, as we will pass it to them one day. 

We thank our veterans for their selflessness, their sacrifice and bravery, and for the part they play and have played in advancing the cause of freedom and peace. We are a better nation because of their service.

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