On this Veterans Day, let us thank and honor the brave men and women who have stood on the frontlines protecting and defending our beloved country.
What we now call Veterans Day began officially in America in 1926 as Armistice Day, celebrating the end of World War I and honoring those who fought with America, France, and Britain. In 1954, Congress passed a bill signed by President Dwight Eisenhower expanding the holiday to honor those who fought for the Allies in World War II and changing its name to Veterans Day. Today, we honor our nation’s veterans with parades and ceremonies for their service. We also pay respect to those veterans who gave their lives defending our freedom.
We feel this commitment personally. Newt’s father spent 27 years in the U.S. Army and served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Additionally, Callista’s uncle served in the Philippines during World War II and was killed in action in 1945 helping to defeat the Japanese Empire. He is buried in the Manila American Cemetery. Three of her other uncles served in Europe during World War II as well.
We have close friends who served in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. We have made it a point to visit U.S. military cemeteries around the world when we travel including in France, Luxembourg, Tunisia, and Italy. We are always overwhelmed and inspired by their majesty and dignity.
As General Colin Powell once said:
“We defeated Communism. We saved Europe in World War I and World War II. We were willing to do it, glad to do it. We went to Korea. We went to Vietnam. All in the interest of preserving the rights of people. … And did we ask for any land? No, the only land we ever asked for was enough land to bury our dead. And that is the kind of nation we are.”
The tradition of patriotic service began with the founding of America.
From the Continental Army led by General George Washington to the Union soldiers fighting for freedom in the U.S. Civil War, to the courageous patriots of the 20th and 21st centuries, we honor their devotion to our nation. Their sacrifices remind us that freedom is not inherited; it must be fought for and constantly defended.
As then-Governor Ronald Reagan wisely said, “Freedom is a fragile thing and it’s never more than one generation away from extinction.”
Today and every day, we extend our deepest gratitude to our veterans, their families, and those who currently serve in our armed forces. May their service and sacrifice inspire us to cherish and safeguard the precious liberties they fought to preserve.
And when you see someone in uniform, take a moment and thank them. They are protecting you and your freedom.