For all who served to defend our freedom, on this day we salute you

  • Published
  • By Malcolm McLaren
  • Goodfellow Air Force Base Library
Consider how you would answer any of the following questions. You might want to write them down and share them with your friends or submit your responses as a letter to the editor.
  1. What is liberty?
  2. What would you sacrifice for freedom?
  3. Is patriotism enough to sustain this country?
Throughout our history, Americans have reserved a special place of honor in their hearts for our veterans, and for more than 70 years, Nov. 11 has been set aside to recognize the men and women who have so courageously served their country.

On this day, we remember and pay tribute to the millions of patriots whose bravery and sacrifice have secured our freedom including those who suffered through the harsh winter at Valley Forge, those who preserved our Union on the battlefields of Gettysburg, those who turned back the tide of tyranny and hatred on the beaches of Normandy, on Pork Chop Hill, Khe Sanh, in Afghanistan and Iraq.

They have kept and are keeping the peace while defending our values around the globe today.

Time and again, America has called on our men and women in uniform to protect our national security and to preserve our rights and freedoms, and time and again, our Armed Forces have responded by overcoming daunting challenges to achieve hard-fought victories.

In battles that would determine our nation's destiny, in wars that would decide the fate of the free world, in peacekeeping missions that would change forever the lives and futures of people fighting oppression, they have persisted in the face of adversity and have succeeded.

The armistice that ended World War I, the "Great War" and the "War to End All Wars," was signed on Nov. 11, 1918, at 11 a.m. Thereafter, Armistice Day was celebrated on that date and officially designated a federal holiday in 1938. After World War II, it became known as Veterans Day. In 1977, it officially became celebrated on Nov. 11.

To pay tribute to those who have served in our Armed Forces, the U.S. Congress has provided that Nov. 11 of each year shall be set aside as a legal public holiday to honor America's veterans. On that day we, as a nation, are asked to earnestly remember the sacrifices all of those who fought to preserve our heritage of freedom.

For that and for the peace, prosperity and liberty their service has secured for us, our nation owes our veterans a profound debt of gratitude. In commemorating this solemn day, we express our deep appreciation for the duties they have discharged.

Now, as we prepare to celebrate Veterans Day 2010, here are three simple, yet meaningful things, each of us can do.
  1. Fly the American flag. It shows your patriotism, but it also serves to say that you remember veterans who served their country.
  2. Take time to thank a veteran. They fought for our freedom and those sacrifices they made are the reasons we are here today.
  3. Take a moment to reflect on what veterans have done for each of us. From those who made the ultimate sacrifice to those who returned and are a part of every community and fabric of this nation, remember, they are one of the reasons we live in the largest free nation in the world today.
Until now, I never really understood the saying, "If you're going to talk the talk, you've got to walk the walk," because it seemed to be so liberally applied to many different parts of life, but perhaps it is more closely related to such thoughts as "actions speak louder than words," or "practice what you preach."

In terms of Veterans Day and what we can do to honor those who served, our actions should match what we preach.

Finally, Veterans Day is one day to remember, share and pay tribute to memories of duty, honor, country and extraordinary sacrifice; a day to celebrate peace and victories that grew from dark battles; and a day to dream of a brighter future.

Freedom is America's heart and soul and is central to our being. It can only be retained by the eternal vigilance that has always been its price.