Friday, November 09, 2007
Remembering Our Heroes
What is a Veteran?
On Veterans Day, November 11th, we pause to remember and to honor the men and women who selflessly and bravely served in America’s armed forces to keep our nation strong and our freedoms secure.
Veterans Day traditionally is a day of celebration when communities large and small demonstrate their respect and appreciation for the soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who have sacrificed so much for the cherished causes of liberty and peace.
This Veterans Day, however, will be a more somber occasion as we pay tribute to not only those who served in past wars, but honor America’s sons and daughters on active duty in Iraq and in the war against terrorism being waged around the world.
Observance of Veterans Day – or Armistice Day as it was known then -- began 84-years ago, in 1919, when Americans gathered to celebrate the first anniversary of the peace agreement that ended the first world war – the war to end all wars.
Today, many wars and conflicts later, we continue this tradition of paying tribute to those who have worn the uniforms of our armed forces. Our servicemen and women have freely given of themselves throughout our history to preserve the precious liberties and freedoms enjoyed today by Americans and people worldwide. We are the fortunate beneficiaries of their vigilance and determination.
The courage of America’s veterans has been passed down from generation to generation. Our veterans have proudly and bravely battled tyranny and oppression in the world wars, Korea, Vietnam, and the Middle East.
And, today, our men and women in uniform once again are at war, bringing freedom to the people of Iraq and standing vigilant against brutal and ruthless terrorists who kill innocent people in their blind hatred of America and our special way of life.
Through their service, today’s veterans have joined a long line of patriots willing to risk all to preserve our freedom and the American way of life.
To the families of others who have made the supreme sacrifice – we extend our heartfelt gratitude, acknowledging we cannot measure the value of the freedoms secured by their supreme sacrifice. Their losses, however, will not be in vain, as our nation will emerge victorious in these wars and the world will be a better and safer place.
We are a nation blessed with an abundance of citizens willing to take up arms to secure, defend and maintain the principles put forth by our forefathers. Since the founding of our nation, nearly 50 million men and women have served America in uniform.
Half of them – some 25 million – are living today. They are our grandparents, parents, sons and daughters, co-workers, friends and neighbors – ordinary citizens who have served in extraordinary ways to preserve the greatness of America.
It is our duty as citizens of this great nation to remember the service of our veterans, their sacrifices and their commitment to America and its citizens. We should do so, not just on Veterans Day, but every day of the year.
That is the least we can do in recognition of the inestimable debt we owe for what they have done for us, and continue to do to make a better and safer tomorrow for generations of Americans, who will enjoy the promise of freedom and happiness as the legacy of the selfless service of countless patriots.
A few years after the end of World War I, President Calvin Coolidge cautioned Americans that “The nation which forgets its defenders will itself be forgotten.” The admonition is as timely today as it was then.
On Veterans Day 2006 let us join together in remembering our veterans and giving thanks for all they have done for us and our great nation. And, let us pray for the safety and well being of our men and women in uniform, and wish them success as they fight for the cause of freedom and peace.
Two little words that mean a lot, "THANK YOU." Remember November 11th is Veterans Day.
"It is the soldier, not the reporter,
Who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the soldier, not the poet,
Who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the soldier, not the campus organizer,
Who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.
It is the soldier,
Who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
and whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag."
Father Denis Edward O'Brien, USMC