Originally called “Armistice Day,” “Veterans Day” became a federal holiday in 1938. Pres. Woodrow Wilson declared November 11 as a day of celebration and remembrance of veterans of our military. This then is a tribute to military veterans everywhere.
Their blood has been spilled in the mountains and fields of Europe. Their body parts have been scattered over the swamps and jungles of Asia and the deserts of The Middle East and North Africa. Some have found their eternal rest in the watery graves of the North Atlantic and the South Pacific. Boys became men and girls grew into women in defense of liberty and freedom. Still they answered the call. When this great nation needed them they came. They came by the thousands and tens of thousands. They came not to be heroes but became heroes anyway. They are the veterans we honor every November 11. Some came home in flag draped coffins. Some came home missing limbs or with bad dreams of the horrors they witnessed and dealt with. Still they answered the call. Some veterans gave their all and some just gave their time. Either way, they all gave and continue to give today.
Today as we pay tribute to war veterans, we also pay tribute to those who put their lives on hold to enter the military service in times of peace to stand as a barrier against the evil in the world. Like all veterans, you too answered the call. By your presence you stood as a deterrent to those tyrants and thugs who would seek to destroy our freedom and our way of life. For your service you were paid poor wages and fed questionable food. Often you were required to sacrifice many of the freedoms you enjoyed in civilian life. But still you came.
Some returned from an unpopular war to a less than friendly welcome home. To those who felt they had to get out of their uniforms quickly, we apologize. To those who participated in the unfriendly welcome, shame on you. It may be helpful for you to know soldiers and sailors don't get to choose what orders they obey. They are trained as warriors and they put their lives on the line for your freedom when and where they are called to do so. Today we honor those among you who suffered such treatment. May we never again be so ungrateful as a people.
To the families who give up so much. You have given this country your sons and daughters, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, as well as neighbors and friends. Today we also honor you. No one could ever understand your fear or the feelings you experience when your loved ones are in harm's way unless they have been in your shoes. But still you stand and wait. Please do so in the knowledge that a grateful nation loves you and appreciates your sacrifice.
America has set aside but one day out of the year to honor our warriors, our military, our veterans, but I say every day should be Veterans Day. Not a day should go by that we all should not pay tribute to those who answer the call and serve. As has been said so many times, freedom is not free. To those among you who have paid the price and answered the call, we will never forget. A grateful nation honors you this day and every day.