Each year in November we honor American service members both past and present. This day of reflection originated from a World War I “ceasefire” observed over 100 years ago in 1918 on the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour. One year later in 1919 President Wilson proclaimed November 11th as Armistice Day, but it was not until 1954 that Congress renamed it to what we know today as Veterans Day.
We celebrate this day to honor all of America’s veterans for their patriotism, loyalty, selfless service, and sacrifice. It is a day to reflect and remember those that have taken the oath to defend this country.
Whether you wear the uniform today, or wore it in the past, you belong to a unique family that shares a bond many do not understand. It's never been the technology that makes our military the greatest in the world. Rather, the true strength of our military is the people who have worn and now wear the uniform.
Veterans Day 2020 finds our nation in conflicts both foreign and domestic, and with COVID-19 creating challenges. Past and present Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen answer the call to support and defend our nation and our freedoms regardless of whether they fight in the mountains and deserts of Afghanistan and Iraq, or fight fires in California and here in Washington. In every generation, from the Revolutionary War through today, Americans and some patriots who are not even U.S. citizens have stepped forward and served our country honorably in war and at peace. Every one of them deserves the admiration and respect of our entire country.
Some are heroes defined by deeds in combat, but all are heroes defined by selfless service. We all have one thing in common: we few chose to defend not only our country, but every individual living under the freedom and protection this country provides.
Veterans are not defined by heritage, by race, or by the nationality of our forefathers prior to their arrival on these shores. We are Americans first and last and are always defined by the sacred oath of allegiance we all have taken . . . WHEN ONE OF US BLEEDS WE ALL BLEED; we share the pain felt by America when one of us falls.
I know you have done your duty. You have answered the call to your families, communities, comrades and country. You have served with honor and great distinction! So, today, it is my privilege to say "thank you" to all of America's veterans for your courage and service. You need to know that we are grateful and acknowledge your sacrifices and accomplishments.
To Gold Star families: Know we will never forget your sacrifice to our most grateful nation. We will never forget your fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers, or sisters taken on the field of battle. Know they have gone before us and have born the greatest of tolls for our nation’s freedoms. When I first heard Mark Yamane was killed in action in Grenada on 25 October 1983, I knew our nation will hold the Yamane family and other families in our hearts forever.
Lastly, I would ask the WWII, Korean War, and Vietnam War Veterans to stand – if you can -- or wave your hand. I just want to say a few words of personal thanks: Our nation will always remember your service, and your sacrifices are never to be forgotten. On your shoulders we stand. You made lives better for all the follow-on generations up to this very day and going forward!
To the veterans of the NVC and veterans all across America, you deserve our respect and our gratitude for the noble choice we made and the oath under which our banner, our flag, goes forward.
Happy Veterans Day