On November 11, 1919 President Woodrow Wilson spoke these words on the first Armistice Day, now known as Veterans Day:
"A year ago today our enemies laid down their arms in accordance with an armistice which rendered them impotent to renew hostilities, and gave to the world an assured opportunity to reconstruct its shattered order and to work out in peace a new and juster set of international relations. The soldiers and people of the European Allies had fought and endured for more than four years to uphold the barrier of civilization against the aggressions of armed force. We ourselves had been in the conflict something more than a year and a half.
With splendid forgetfulness of mere personal concerns, we remodeled our industries, concentrated our financial resources, increased our agricultural output, and assembled a great army, so that at the last our power was a decisive factor in the victory. We were able to bring the vast resources, material and moral, of a great and free people to the assistance of our associates in Europe who had suffered and sacrificed without limit in the cause for which we fought.
Out of this victory there arose new possibilities of political freedom and economic concert. The war showed us the strength of great nations acting together for high purposes, and the victory of arms foretells the enduring conquests which can be made in peace when nations act justly and in furtherance of the common interests of men.
To us in America the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service, and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of nations."
100 years later let us never forget the sacrifices that have been made and are still being made in service to our country by the men and women who serve in our Armed Forces.
For this service is not only the engagement of enemy in combat, as crucial and terrible as it must be.
It is the hundreds and thousands of hours of training, day after day, which brings many dangers of its own.
It's the families left behind during long deployments, which are still going on by the way. Time away that can never be reclaimed.
It is the wounds, yes physical, but often more damaging, emotional and psychological. Damage that may never really "go away".
It is careers interrupted, birthdays and anniversaries missed, funerals unattended.
I am happy there are Veterans, but "Happy Veterans Day" hardly seems appropriate. There is too much there to reduce to a generic and trite saying.
It is no small thing to serve one's country in the military.
Let's give Honor Where Honor Is Due.
Today and every day.