On November 11th, the United States celebrates Veterans Day, an occasion to recognize the men and women who have defended America’s freedom and freedom elsewhere in the world.
Veterans Day was born out of the First World War. The U.S. sent troops to Europe to stop aggression by Germany and others. An armistice went into effect on November 11th, 1918, at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. The First World War was supposed to be -- as U.S. President Woodrow Wilson said -- “the war to end all wars.” But it wasn’t.
As the twentieth century progressed, Americans and their allies fought and died to defeat German Nazi, Italian Fascist, and Imperial Japanese aggression in the Second World War. The U.S. and its allies defended South Korea from aggression by Communist North Korea and China. A generation later, Americans and others fought to oppose the Communist takeover of South Vietnam.
In the 1980s, American troops were part of multi-national forces sent to rescue Lebanon and Grenada from civil war and terrorism. In 1989, American forces liberated Panama from the repressive rule of General Manuel Noriega. In 1991, a U.S.-led international coalition ended Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s brutal occupation of Kuwait. And last year, an American-led coalition drove the Taleban and al-Qaida terrorists from power in Afghanistan.
“Through each of these challenges,” said President George W. Bush, “the members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard have protected our country and liberated millions of people around the world from the threats of tyranny and terror.”
On the observance of Veterans Day in 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower called on Americans to not only remember “the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly” but also to rededicate themselves “to the task of promoting an enduring peace.” “Today, almost fifty years later,” said President Bush, “we remember the dedication of our veterans, and resolve ourselves to upholding their legacy of justice, liberty, and opportunity for all.”