Editorial: On Veterans Day, we honor those who serve

Preparation for the battle to retake Mosul- photo by Master Sgt. Mike Lavigne/Army

Some call it our quietest holiday. We salute a very special group of Americans today with the celebration of Veterans Day, a national observance honoring all who served their country in the military.

We don’t celebrate with cookouts and fireworks; we mark the day with a quiet, heart-felt thank you.

This has been a difficult time for many veterans. Some watch as American-backed forces in Iraq slog back to Mosul - where U.S. troops died in 2004 taking that city during the Iraq war. It’s as if the U.S. forces never took the area, which is now controlled by ISIS.

“Iraqi Kurdish fighters exchanged heavy fire with militants early on Monday as they advanced from two directions into a town held by the Islamic State group east of the city of Mosul,” Fox News reported last week. “The offensive to reclaim the town of Bashiqa is part of the broader push to drive IS out of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city and the militants’ last major urban stronghold in the country.”

It’s discouraging; American left a vacuum in the region by pulling out so completely.

Yet American sacrifices in Iraq and elsewhere were not made in vain. The fact that there are freedoms to be defended and regained there is due to American might and American sacrifices.

Veterans Day began as Armistice Day, when President Woodrow Wilson set aside Nov. 11, 1919, as a commemoration of the end of the Great War (fighting ceased at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918).

After World War II called up the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the nation’s history, and after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, veterans service organizations urged Congress to make the change to Veterans Day.

The legislation was approved on June 1, 1954, and Nov. 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

But when the Uniform Holiday Bill was signed in June 1968, to ensure three- day weekends for federal employees by celebrating national holidays on Mondays, Veterans Day was included. The first Veterans Day under the new schedule was observed with much confusion on Oct. 25, 1971.

That was a mistake.

It became clear that to most Americans, commemoration of the particular date was a matter of historic and patriotic significance, so in 1975 a law was adopted returning the annual observance to the original date of Nov. 11.

Veterans Day continues to be observed on Nov. 11, regardless of the day of the week on which it falls. This not only preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the important intent of the celebration: to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

All of America’s veterans have placed our nation’s security before their own lives, creating a debt we can never fully repay.

Our veterans deserve the best America can give them.


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