Honoring those who have served and sacrificed

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By Congressman Bob Goodlatte

It is truly an honor to pay tribute to our nation’s veterans. America was founded on the principles of liberty, opportunity and justice for all, and on Veterans Day we recognize the men and women of our armed forces who have valiantly defended these values throughout our nation’s history. We ensure that their willingness to answer the call of their country on foreign battlefields will not quickly be forgotten.

Veterans Day, formerly Armistice Day, began as a day of remembrance for those who died during the First World War.  The national holiday was made official by Congress in 1938.  It was 16 years later that President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation, “to honor veterans on the 11th day of November each year . . . A day dedicated to world peace,” and formally named the occasion Veterans Day.

Our fallen heroes gave their lives so that we may continue to enjoy the benefits of a free and great democracy.  From the minute men drawn up on the grass at Lexington and Concord, to the bloody woods of Chancellorsville, to the sailors fighting the Japanese in the Pacific, to daring pilots flying missions over Germany and defeating Hitler, to courageous Marines landing at Inchon in Korea, to soldiers in the jungles of Vietnam, to crushing Saddam Hussein in the Gulf, to fighting the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guard have fought for the cause of freedom.

President Calvin Coolidge once said, “the nation which forgets its defenders will itself be forgotten”.  It often takes a day like Veterans Day to pause and remember the values and principles that this nation was founded upon.  And when we remember, we think of those who have sacrificed in honor of those principles.  These are the veterans of our wars, past, present and future -- they are the ones who have stood guard over the principles that have created this great nation.  And it is in their memory and names that we must commit to ourselves that we will never forget their sacrifices, that we will not allow their blood to have been shed in vain and that we will, every day, act in accordance with those principles that they fought for. We must always pay tribute to those who have made our nation great, strong, and most importantly – free.

While it is virtually impossible for us to sufficiently convey our national gratitude, to adequately express our unyielding pride to those who have worn the uniform of this great nation, I humbly say thank you to these true patriots and to the countless brave Americans who have sacrificed their lives for this country.  It is through your sacrifice that our nation remains the land of the free, and the home of the brave.