"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 to America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations."
With these words, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as the first observance of Armistice Day in 1919 in recognition of the Nov. 11, 1918, end of World War War I, "the war to end all wars."
We know what was believed at the time to be "The Great War" was not "the war to end all wars." Indeed, peace has eluded the world in all the wars that have come since: World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan and the war on terror that will never end.
Because of a man named Raymond Weeks of Birmingham, Ala., Armistice Day eventually became Veterans Day. In 1947, he organized a Veterans Day parade to honor all American veterans for their service to their country, and not long after, Kansas Congressman Edward H. Rees introduced a bill to change the name from Armistice Day to Veterans Day to honor all American veterans who have served their country in all wars.
A few years later, in 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill designating Nov. 11 as Veterans Day, which is always celebrated on the day of the week it falls.
We should not confuse Veterans Day with Memorial Day in May, when we pay homage to our American armed forces who have fallen in war.
Rather, today, we pay tribute to all of this country's men and women of the past and present who have served or serve now in the American military, protecting the freedoms we cherish.
Their sacrifice - and that of their families - deserves our deepest gratitude and respect, so much so that we should take a moment of our time each and every day of the year to think of them and thank them for their commitment to their country and to us, their fellow Americans.