Today marks the first Veterans Day of the 21st Century. As we have done since 1919, Americans pause to salute the brave men and women who have served in the Armed Forces of the United States. This day was originally set aside as a day of observance for those who fought and died in the “Great War,” World War I -- the “war to end all wars.” Obviously, World War I was not the end of warfare; in fact, it was the precursor of warfare throughout the 20th Century. So with history as our guide, members of our Armed Forces undoubtedly will be called upon to go into harm’s way in the new century. Our men and women in uniform, serving around the globe today, stand ready to answer that call.
In 1954, Veterans Day became a tribute to all those who have served America in all wars. It is fitting to note that this change came on the heels of another important conflict, the Korean War. During this commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Korean War, we should pay honor to our veterans of that conflict. Their great sacrifice embodies the spirit of selflessness in the face of overwhelming deprivation and hardship.
This Veterans Day, I challenge every American to consider the sacrifice of those who lost their lives in our Nation’s struggles to preserve liberty and freedom. Whether attending a parade, a memorial service or observing the day in private, pause at the 11th hour to reflect upon and mark this occasion.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff and I join you in paying homage to our veterans for all they have done. Their actions made a difference for America and the world. Their dedication to duty has preserved our precious legacy of freedom and liberty in this great Republic.
HENRY H. SHELTON
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff