As a nation, we have prospered because we have always had citizens willing to rise to answer the call to serve in hours of need. The millions who have worn the military uniform have expressed our national resolve. Today, we honor our veterans, past and present, for their unyielding sacrifice and dedication to our great nation.
As many of you know, Veterans Day was first observed in 1919 to commemorate the Armistice Agreement ending World War I—the supposed “war to end all wars.” President Dwight D. Eisenhower broadened its meaning in 1954 when he officially renamed it Veterans Day, to recognize all those who had served.
This year, Veterans Day falls amid national challenges that are unlike any others in our history. The War on Terrorism is a long-term struggle that has sent our troops to every corner of the world. To say the least, the obstacles have been trying and the dangers have been real.
But progress is being made.
Recently, we’ve seen our servicemen and women make huge strides in the name of freedom. They’ve not only made our own country more secure, but they continue to bring the fight to our enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan. Though significant challenges lie ahead before stability returns to these areas, the brave men and women serving in our military are prepared to do the job.
The same dedication we witness in today’s endeavors has preserved America in the toughest of times throughout its history. Whether in peace or at war, the important role of our veterans cannot be denied. They are men and women from all walks of life, but they share one thing in common—a love for this great country.
In return for their many sacrifices, these brave individuals ask very little. And thus, it falls to an indebted nation to meet their selflessness with thankfulness.
In the coming year, AMVETS must recommit itself to honoring the sacrifices of our veterans. We must mobilize our membership to get out and serve those who have served: from volunteering to serve in our VA and military hospitals, to working with the citizen-soldiers of the National Guard in our own communities. We all must make a concerted effort to ensure the actions of all veterans are appropriately remembered and appreciated.
It is time we—as a nation—take the proper steps to renew our commitment to those who served our nation. We must ensure that VA has the proper resources to do its job. We must not tolerate hearing of veterans waiting years to receive their benefits or being turned away in their hour of need. Progress must be made and AMVETS continues to work with VA and Congress to ensure that veterans remain a priority in this country. Through legislation and by supporting new initiatives, AMVETS will ensure the voices of veterans are heard and that appropriate action is taken to solve the problems that hinder veterans from receiving care and benefits.
For no matter where or when our veterans have served, they’ve always served with distinction. Service to country is a bridge over which more than 38 million Americans have passed during wartime alone. It was built on courage, dedication and patriotism—keystones in our American way of life.
So on this Veterans Day, there is much to commemorate, and much to be thankful for. It is true—America is strong and free. But we would never have come this far without the heroes we call veterans.
Today we have the privilege of honoring this very special group of Americans, whose service spans every decade of our country’s existence. We owe them a great deal. First and foremost, we owe them for our freedom. And today, especially, we owe them our gratitude. Thank you—and God bless America.