Sunday marks the 99th time our nation will commemorate what is now known as Veterans Day. Those many years ago, President Woodrow Wilson declared it a day to “be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service” and an opportunity for America “to show her sympathy with peace and justice.” By maintaining the intent of this sacred day of remembrance for almost a century, it is evident that the citizens of this country hold our veterans in the highest esteem.
Initially known as Armistice Day to commemorate the end of World War I and honor its veterans, Congress expanded the legislation in 1954 to honor American veterans of all wars. Today, there are thousands of military men and women serving in places all over the world – austere deserts, subzero tundra, rough oceans and expansive skies. These Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen proudly follow the path cleared by those who served before. This seamless changing of the guard throughout the years has maintained our nation’s freedom. To those who made it possible, we owe a great debt.
To that end, I encourage you to participate in a local Veterans Day observance or parade this weekend, as I will. And if given the opportunity, get to know one of the veterans there. Some of the world’s most patriotic hearts beat underneath yesterday’s military uniforms. Hearing the stories behind the decorations pinned to the chests of these men and women will give you a renewed sense of pride in our nation and those who work to protect the peace.
To our veterans, thank you for the sacrifices you made while defending the United States. Whether it be time away from your families, injuries sustained in combat, or the stress of difficult decisions, we offer our deepest gratitude for serving.
Lt. Gen. Gene Kirkland
Commander Air Force Sustainment Center