On November 11th of each year, we pause to reflect on the service and sacrifice of the men and women of our Armed Forces. Our nation’s veterans - many of whom have given their lives in defense of our freedoms - to protect our constitutional rights.
On this Veterans Day, it seems a bit different, though. The nation has just been through a bruising election. The country remains strongly divided on numerous issues. And, America remains at war - men and women continue to serve and are placed in harms way. And, of course, there are new and dangerous threats - a soon-to-be nuclear Iran - a Middle East where radical Islam is expanding, putting Israel and the United States at greater risk.
On this special day, we honor all veterans - including those from earlier wars - those trail-blazers of freedom. We are grateful for their service - their commitment to our republic – to our way of life.
Veterans Day was once known as Armistice Day. November 11, 1918 is generally regarded as the end of "the war to end all wars" with Veterans Day marking the anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I, the armistice that began on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
Whether its those who served in the mountains of Europe, the jungles of Vietnam, or the desert outposts in Afghanistan, we must never forget their service. We must remember - not just those who have gone before us - but those who stand among us today. We must honor these veterans - the millions of brave men and women who are fighting - those who have gone to battle on our behalf.
Yes, America is divided. There's disagreement on many issues. No question about that. But America is much bigger than its disagreements, much larger than its divisions. This nation honors its veterans and will do so again this year, regardless of political differences or ideological impasses.
On this Veterans Day, take a moment - tell a veteran: "Thank you for your service." Shake a hand. Give 'em a hug. Let them know that America cares. Let them know that America honors their commitment to defending our freedoms.
And, we should pray. Pray for our men and women in the Armed Services, those in harms way. Pray for our nation during these challenging times.
I'm reminded of the words of President Reagan, who always understood and honored those who made the ultimate sacrifice - the military men and women who gave their lives - to protect our nation.
"We owe them a debt we can never repay. All we can do is remember them and what they did and why they had to be brave for us. All we can do is try to see that other young men never have to join them," said President Reagan in remarks on Veterans Day memorial in 1985 at Arlington National Cemetery. "Let us pray for freedom and justice and a more stable world."
One year earlier, in 1984, in ceremonies marking the 40th anniversary of D-Day, President Reagan underscored his gratitude for those who gave their lives: "Let us make a vow to our dead. Let us show them by our actions that we understand what they died for. . . Strengthened by their courage, heartened by their valor, and borne by their memory, let us continue to stand for the ideals for which they lived and died."
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