This year on Nov. 11, at 11 a.m., our nation remembers the moment when the guns of World War I went silent — and we recognize the service and the sacrifice of our nation’s veterans. From Valley Forge to Vietnam, from Kuwait to Kandahar, from Berlin to Baghdad, from Iraq to Afghanistan, our veterans have borne the costs of America’s wars — and they have stood watch over America’s peace. The American people are grateful to the veterans and all who have fought for our freedom.
On this Veterans Day, we give thanks for the millions of Americans who strengthen our nation with their example of service and sacrifice. Our veterans are drawn from many generations and from many backgrounds. Some charged across great battlefields. Some fought on the high seas. Some patrolled the open skies. Some supported those who fought. All contributed to the character and to the greatness of America.
On this Veterans Day, we honor the men and women who are defending our freedom. Since Sept. 11, 2001, our Armed Forces have engaged the enemy, the terrorists, on many fronts. At this moment, more than 1,429,995 Americans are on active duty, serving the cause of freedom and peace around the world. They are our nation’s finest citizens. They confront grave danger to defend the safety of the American people. They’ve brought down tyrants, they’ve liberated nations, they have helped bring freedom to more than 50 million people. Through their sacrifice, they’re making this nation safer and more secure — and they are earning the proud title of veteran.
On this Veterans Day, we’re humbled by the strong hearts of those who have served. You may ask how you can support these veterans and those still serving. The answer is simple; tell them you appreciate what they did. A veteran was once asked how they could keep their spirits up. One man answered for all when he replied, "It is because we feel the American people are so appreciative of our service." Many of our veterans bear the scars of their service to our country - and we are a nation that will keep its commitments to those who have risked their lives for our freedom. That young man was right — we do appreciate the service of those who wear our uniform.
I urge our citizens to go up to those men and women and shake a hand, give a hug and a word of thanks. I ask you to consider volunteering at a veterans’ hospital or the Iowa Veterans Home. I encourage you to work with your local veterans’ group (American Legions and VFW’s) to help support our troops in the field — and their families here at home.
As we raise our flag and as the bugle sounds taps, we remember that the men and women of America’s Armed Forces serve a great cause. They follow in a great tradition, handed down to them by America’s veterans. And in public ceremonies and in private prayer, we give thanks for the freedom we enjoy because of their willingness to serve.
I thank you for honoring those who serve today, and for honoring those who have set such a sterling example — our nation’s veterans. May God bless our veterans, may God bless all who wear the uniform and may God continue to bless the United States of America.
Brett D. McLain is director of Story County Veterans Affairs.