Veterans Day: There would be no America without them

Well, now, is it Veteran’s Day or Veterans’ Day – singular or plural possessive? Actually, it is neither, for veterans don’t have a day; instead, Americans have a day to honor American veterans, both living and deceased. On Veterans Day, we pay tribute to that small percentage of citizens who have expressed their patriotism in deeds, not words, through the sacrifice of service to their country. They epitomize the words of Christopher Gadsden, Continental Congress delegate and veteran, when he stated, “What I can do for my country, I am willing to do.”

Veterans Day honors all American veterans, distinct from those “Killed in Action,” as on Memorial Day. In 1918, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, World War I – the “war to end all wars” – officially ended, giving rise to Armistice Day. Subsequent to World War II, President Dwight David Eisenhower signed legislation proclaiming Nov. 11 a day to honor all American veterans, and renamed Armistice Day Veterans Day. However, in 1968 Veterans Day (along with Memorial Day and Washington’s Birthday) was caught up in the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, and was assigned to the fourth Monday in October. The resulting confusion, coupled with the historical significance and patriotic importance of eleven-eleven, led President Gerald Ford to sign a new law in 1975 returning Veterans Day to its rightful place of Nov. 11.

How significant is this annual national observation? Without the American veteran, there would be no America. On July 4, 1776, 13 colonies took the first united actions to form the United States. During the ensuing seven years, it is estimated that 250,000 American colonists served in the Continental Army, with a maximum of 48,000 serving at any one time. In total, some 35,100 Patriots sacrificed their lives for the cause of Independence. Later, 22 veterans, or 56% of the 39 signers, signed the United States Constitution. These 22 formed the bridge between the human desire for liberty and a government recognition of mankind’s God-given rights. By the year 1815, 400 veterans had served our new nation in its federal Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches, or gubernatorial positions in the states.

Revolutionary War veterans served as the bridge from former bondage to freedom and liberty. Successively, every American veteran has served to maintain, defend and strengthen the foundation upon which liberty stands. They have sacrificed significantly here at home, as well as defending America’s freedom and liberty from threats around the globe. The veterans we honor today share a direct lineage and bond-of-brotherhood extending back to 1776. This bond is formed through shared experiences and sacrifices, the certain knowledge that each would give his life for the other and the fact, unrecognized by many of their fellow Americans, that they all stand upon hallowed ground. There is no higher service one can give to one’s country. As proclaimed by former Alabama Gov. Bob Riley, “I have long believed that sacrifice is the pinnacle of patriotism.”

At its core, this brotherhood/sisterhood together is bound together by invisible but unbreakable cords that I hold tantamount to our founders’ mutual pledge of “our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” The military oath states unambiguously, “I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; … So help me God.” Their oath does not swear to support and defend a musty piece of paper filed away in our National Archives, but rather the constitutional republic that sprang from it; the culture and society that, with all its flaws, became the freest, most prosperous on earth, and the greatest force for good of any nation in history.

Most veterans recognize that ending their oath with, “So help me God” is binding on them for a lifetime. When we hear veterans say, “There is no time limit on my oath,” these are not hollow words uttered for effect. They are words that come from the very soul of the individual. Often at a veteran’s funeral, we will see this concept exemplified in the snapping of the American flag as it is laid over the coffin; this is done symbolically to release the veteran from that oath.

Veterans Day is a day for Americans to honor these men and women who have offered their lives for our freedom. But how can we truly begin to honor such sacrifice? Of course, greeting them with “Thank you for your service” is an appropriate and appreciated gesture – though we could beef it up a little: “Thank you for your service and sacrifice for our great nation.”

It is essential that honoring our heroes not be reserved for one day a year; our appreciation should be shown throughout the year by attending veteran events such as Veterans Day Parades, donating to one or more of the veteran organizations, flying your flag at home, visiting or volunteering at a VA Hospital, and any other act of gratitude the shows appreciation for those who preserved for us the blessings of liberty. Americans would do well to live the words of JFK: “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

Above all, honor our veterans by honoring the nation they served and sacrificed for, doing your part to stand tall for freedom and liberty, and to be vigilant in their preservation. That is our great privilege as Americans!

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This article was originally published by the WND News Center.

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