In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day:
“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 the nations…”
Now, every November 11, we celebrate Veterans Day to thank those who have helped protect our freedoms. In a striking contrast to Memorial Day, Veterans Day is not a sad occasion; it is a celebration of those who have served. I join millions of Americans today to say thank you to our veterans across the country and in Etowah County.
Like so many, both of my grandfathers, Wendell Pierce and Sidney Burgess, served in World War II. They each instilled in me the importance of love of country and sacrifice. I remember hearing countless stories from their time in service, of the men they served with, and the importance of their service. Their lives undoubtedly shaped mine in more ways than I can imagine. Through them, I learned the importance of honoring and celebrating the sacrifice of veterans every day of the year.
On this Veterans Day, I think too of the veterans of our more recent wars in the Persian Gulf and conflicts across the globe. Like the generations before them, they are men and women who served our country under terrible circumstances but rose to the occasion. They don’t always get recognized, but they should. They each chose to fight, chose to serve, and chose to sacrifice.
Regardless of when and where they served, every veteran contributed an important part of their life to make our life better. I hope that you will join me in thanking them for their service, patriotism, and sacrifice.