By Rep. Mike Sanders
On Nov. 11, 1918, at the 11th hour – after a brutally fought and bloody war that took an enormous toll in terms of human life and suffering – allied nations and Germany put into effect an armistice to stop what was then considered “the war to end all wars,” World War I.
Thus was born the original Armistice Day – a day to celebrate peace and an end to war.
We, of course, now know how fleeting was that hope. That would not be the war to end all wars. In fact, United States of America military men and women have been often involved in conflicts both at home and across the globe many times since 1918 – World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, 9-11 and others.
And so, Armistice Day was changed to Veterans Day – a day to celebrate and honor all of the men and women who have served in the various branches of our military since our nation’s birth to present day.
It is on this day that citizens of the United States of America gather far and wide in local assemblies, parades and other ceremonies to thank these heroes for their service and their sacrifice and to remember that is because of their valor that we remain the strongest free and independent nation in the world.
We listen to stories, salute flags and say prayers of thanksgiving for this service.
On this day as on many others, I examine at my own life – my beautiful wife and happy and healthy sons, my extended family, a roof over our heads where our family can grow in the thriving community we call home, the job I get to go to each day and the many events and activities we enjoy – and I am reminded anew of the quality of life I wish to preserve. And then I think of our veterans and the cost they paid so that I and other Americans might enjoy such blessings.
Often our veterans sacrifice youth, body, innocence, time away from family, friends who die in the line or duty or who simply move on with their lives while the veteran serves, and too often our service men and women pay the ultimate sacrifice - their very lives. Families pay a great price as well, waiting and worrying and handling all of the burdens of home until their loved one returns, grieving beyond comprehension when they don’t.
And while all of our veterans and their families deserve our gratitude and our honor, they also deserve our pledge to try to understand their needs and to help them in any way we can as they transition back to civilian life.
It has been one of my goals as a lawmaker to author and support legislation that benefits our veterans and eases life for them. We of course have a long way to go to make sure their health needs are met, that they receive each benefit to which they are entitled, to ensure they are trained for secondary careers once they exit the military and to ease the burdensome process that now exists in our veterans administration system. I personally will keep working toward these goals, and I know others will as well. Our veterans, after all, deserve the best treatment in exchange for their valiant service. Thank you to all who have served our nation. May God richly bless you.