Veterans Day is a time for those of us who have never served in the armed forces of the United States to thank those who have. We thank the vets of every one of our nation’s wars, for without their commitment, dedication to duty, and sacrifice, our freedom and way of life would have been lost long ago. Thank God for the men and women of the United States of America who have served as our defenders of liberty and justice.
Every year Veterans Day is celebrated on November 11, the eleventh day in the eleventh month of the year. This year it also happens to be on the eleventh year of the 21st century, giving this year’s Veterans Day the distinction of 11-11-11.
Here in southern California, Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills will be conducting its 52nd Annual Veterans Day Ceremony beginning at 11 a.m. Pretty easy to remember the date and time; that’s 11-11-11, at 11 a.m. If you can commit the number eleven to memory, you’ve got it made. The free community event will feature skydivers; a military vehicle display; patriotic musical arrangements; a presentation of the Presidential Proclamation; and more than 100 local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts who’ll serve as volunteers for guest services. Complimentary souvenirs will be presented to all attendees.
Presidents have traditionally laid wreaths at the tombs of the unknown soldiers at Veterans Day ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. The following are some of the remarks made by several of our presidents through the years. Because of space limitations the entirety of the speeches cannot be printed, only a few selected excerpts.
Remarks by President John F. Kennedy, Nov. 11, 1961:
“There is no way to maintain the frontiers of freedom without cost and commitment and risk. There is no swift and easy path to peace in our generation. No man who witnessed the tragedies of the last war, no man who can imagine the unimaginable possibilities of the next war, can advocate war out of irritability or frustration or impatience. But let no nation confuse our perseverance and patience with fear of war or unwillingness to meet our responsibilities. We cannot save ourselves by abandoning those who are associated with us, or rejecting our responsibilities. In the end, the only way to maintain the peace is to be prepared in the final extreme to fight for our country — and to mean it.
“On this Veterans Day of 1961, on this day of remembrance, let us pray in the name of those who have fought in this country’s wars, and most especially who have fought in the First World War and in the Second World War, that there will be no veterans of any further war — not because all shall have perished but because all shall have learned to live together in peace.”
Remarks by President Ronald Reagan, Nov. 11, 1985:
“We celebrate Veterans Day on 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.… We are gathered at the National Cemetery, which provides a final resting place for the heroes who have defended our country since the Civil War. This amphitheater, this place for speeches, is more central to this cemetery than it first might seem apparent, for all we can ever do for our heroes is remember them and remember what they did — and memories are transmitted through words.… We’re surrounded today by the dead of our wars. 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.… In memory of those who gave the last full measure of devotion, may our efforts to achieve lasting peace gain strength.”
Remarks by President George W. Bush, Nov. 11, 2002:
“Over the generations, Americans in uniform have defended this nation without seeking to dominate any nation. American troops do not come as conquerors, but as liberators. We believe in self-government for every land; and we believe that freedom is the hope of people of all cultures. By standing for freedom today our military follows in a great tradition of courage and faithful service. Free nations are in debt to the long, distinguished line of American veterans, and all Americans owe our veterans our liberty.
“On this Veterans Day, we honor veterans and we honor their families, and we offer the thanks of a grateful nation. May God bless our veterans, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.”
Remarks by President Barack Obama, Nov. 11, 2009:
“I want to thank our outstanding Vice President, Joe Biden, and his wonderful wife, Dr. Jill Biden, for being here today. We want to thank the Bidens for their son, Beau’s, service as well; we’re glad he just got back from Iraq.”