Many of us, especially those of us who have experienced a painful loss of a loved one in battle, will honor our veterans in a more formal manner. Flowers and flags will decorate gravestones at Arlington and in cemeteries all across the nation. Wreaths will be laid in small, sparsely attended ceremonies at monuments at state capitols and in small towns.
As a nation, we will remember. We will remember all of them. And for those of us who served and who made it back, we will remember the deal we made with our fallen comrades: If one of us doesn’t come back, the rest will toast his or her memory.
For the rest of America, they will not necessarily mourn the deaths of our American heroes on this Veterans Day. Rather, they will celebrate the life and freedoms that these heroes have so unselfishly given to us. I would encourage all Americans—especially those that have not had someone close to them serve in the Armed Forces—to reach out to a Veteran on this Memorial Day and take the time to understand them.
And in so doing, I would ask that all Americans use this reflective time on Veterans Day to ensure that our collective gratitude manifests itself in concrete ways to improve the quality of life for those who have borne the struggles of battle yet now find themselves struggling to succeed in the civilian world. And that means ensuring that our nation’s veterans have access to job training, good jobs and quality health care.
While you are reflecting upon the price already paid, whenever you come across a person in uniform, kindly extend your hand in gratitude, for you just never know who’ll have to pick up the tab the next time that the bill comes around to our table. Enjoy your freedoms, but always—always—know that we’re here on lease, not ownership. Someone has to keep making the payments.
THANK YOU for your service. I am grateful for your sacrifices.