Every year on November 11th we come together as a nation to honor our service members and to remember their sacrifices they have made and the courage it takes to defend honor, duty, country and to say thank you for serving.

As we think in our own minds, service members who are friends, family or are people you’ve read about in history books, seen on TV or read about in the paper, a person can’t help but feel awed by the enormity of what we encounter. We have lived in the midst of patriots and the family and friends of those who have nobly served. The service members we honor on November 11th came from all walks of life, but they shared several fundamental qualities. They possessed courage, pride, determination, selfishness, dedication to duty and the integrity – all the qualities needed to serve a cause larger than one’s self.

Many of these heroes didn’t ask to leave their homes, their families to fight on a distance battle field. Many didn’t even volunteer. They didn’t go to war because they loved fighting. They were called to be a part of something bigger than themselves. They were ordinary people who responded in extra ordinary ways in extreme times. They rose to the nation’s call because they wanted to protect a nation which has given them and us so much. So on this day, we honor all of our veterans who unselfishly placed their lives on line for our freedom.

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month the fighting of World War 1 ended in 1918.  Due to the conclusion of “The War to end all Wars,” November 11th became a universally recognized day of celebration. This day was originally declared “Armistice Day”, eight years after the end of World War 1 and honored only veterans of that war. Then in 1954 and after World War II and the Korean War, it was renamed “Veterans Day” to honor all who served or are currently serving our country and defending our democracy and way of life.

The War on Terrorism has helped us realize how truly unique the American way of life is. The freedom we enjoy is extremely special and that is why we must defend it. So, now is the time to not only honor those who have fought or are fighting for our freedom … it is also time for each of us to take part in protecting it. The defense of freedom is not just for those in the military; each of us shares that duty and responsibility.

You cannot fight a war without veterans and while the utopian idea of a society without war is appealing, let us not forget that wars have liberated slaves, stopped genocide and toppled terrorists. Stephen Ambrose once wrote, “America’s wars have been like rungs on a ladder by which it rose to greatness. No other country has triumphed so long, so consistently or on such vast scale through force of arms.”

Always remember, fewer than 10 percent of Americans can claim the title “Veteran”.  For less than 1 percent of our population is currently defending us in Global War on Terrorism today. Veterans have given us freedom, security and the greatest nation on earth. It is impossible to put a price on that. We must remember them. We must appreciate them.

Veterans Day is not a day for veterans; it’s a day for all Americans.  It’s a day to remember why they are fighting and a day for all of us to begin our journey of protecting our freedom and the freedom of many future generations.

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