Veterans Day: Honoring those who have answered our Nation's call

  • Published
  • By Brig. Gen. Mark Dillon
  • 86th Airlift Wing commander
As we approach November 11, perhaps no one understands the purpose of Veterans Day better than those of us who have worn our Nation's military uniform in defense of our freedoms and our way of life. 

Veterans Day was first established in the United States as Armistice Day to celebrate the end of World War I. In 1954 the national holiday was changed to Veterans Day and President Dwight Eisenhower called on all Americans to recognize the bravery and sacrifices of America's veterans. 

Since then, Veterans Day has been observed as a national holiday. Veterans Day is about the veterans. It is about honoring their service for our country. Veterans Day is about recognizing that these brave men and women are ready at any time to answer our Nation's call in times of need.

As President John F. Kennedy said, "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." 

You, as a veteran, are part of a long lineage of those who have gone before you, and you continue to live by those words. Service isn't just about long hours and sacrifices, it's about our core values. Our veterans are the epitome of what it means to be good citizens. They have given a lifetime of service, and the country has been enriched by their contributions, both in and out of uniform. 

Veterans Day is also about the families of America's veterans who remain at home. They are the ones who wait anxiously every day for any news of their loved ones who are abroad. The families of America's veterans also deserve recognition on Veterans Day. Some have said goodbye to their loved ones for the last time. These families deserve our support and are the driving force behind this year being declared the Year of the Air Force Family. As a service to America's service men and women, it is our duty to help their families who remain at home. 

As we celebrate this Veterans Day, always remember the words of the great mid-20th century news writer Elmer Davis, "This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave." 

To all veterans, past and present, I thank you. Thank you for your sacrifices, for your sense of duty, and for your service. Our nation salutes you and I salute you.