"We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude." - Cynthia Ozick, American author.
Today those people are veterans, the people who have served this country in places such as Normandy, Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, Pusan, Chosin, Saigon, Khe Sahn and, more recently, Fallujah - and many more places beyond and in between.
Fighting in World War I ended between the Allied nations and Germany on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, Nov. 11, 1918, is regarded as the end of "the war to end all wars."
In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day (now known as Veterans Day) with the following words: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations..."
We honor these men and women today - remembering those who served on the front lines in battle and those who worked in support units behind; those who crawled in the dirt, those who rode the waves and those who flew overhead - for preserving this nation's very existence.
We also would be remiss if we did not mention a milestone - the birth of the United States Marine Corps, Nov. 10, 1775 - 235 years ago Wednesday - is when the Continental Congress approved a resolution calling for two battalions of Marines able to fight for independence at sea and on shore. Each year, the Marine Corps marks Nov. 10 with a celebration of the brave spirit that compelled these men and thousands since to defend our country as United States Marines.
Many Americans mistakenly believe that Veterans Day is the day America sets aside to honor American military personnel who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained from combat. Memorial Day is the day set aside to honor America's war dead. Veterans Day honors all American veterans, both living and dead. In fact, Veterans Day is largely intended to thank living veterans for dedicated and loyal service to their country.
Ensure all veterans today that we deeply appreciate what they have done to keep our country free. This is a day to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.