Opinion

On Veterans Day, we welcome and honor all who served

The 2016 Boise Veterans Day Parade took place Saturday and included a Salute to Women in Uniform, with with grand marshals Command Sgt. Maj. Linda R. Burkhart of the Idaho Army National Guard and Col. Stephanie L. Sheppard of the Idaho Air National Guard. The parade featured all branches of the military services, veterans organizations, marching bands, and tanks and other military vehicles. Veterans Day is Friday.
The 2016 Boise Veterans Day Parade took place Saturday and included a Salute to Women in Uniform, with with grand marshals Command Sgt. Maj. Linda R. Burkhart of the Idaho Army National Guard and Col. Stephanie L. Sheppard of the Idaho Air National Guard. The parade featured all branches of the military services, veterans organizations, marching bands, and tanks and other military vehicles. Veterans Day is Friday. kgreen@idahostatesman.com

Imagine sitting around the dinner table on Monday, Sept. 10, 2001, hypothesizing whether America’s military could fight a two-front war for 15-plus years with just an all-volunteer force.

No one would have said yes, but the fact that our military has — and continues to do so magnificently — is a testament to the high caliber of young patriots who care about protecting our friends and families and defeating our enemies.

Now take that conversation back a century ago to a war-torn Europe that many Americans regarded as “not our fight.”

This year marks the eve of America’s entrance into World War I, the War to End All Wars, and ultimately, the war from which the modern-day Veterans Day was born.

Unfortunately, too few Americans know the true significance of Veterans Day, and even fewer are able to differentiate its significance from that of Memorial Day, Independence Day or our other military-unique days.

Simply put, Memorial Day commemorates our fallen servicemen and women, Independence Day celebrates our nation’s freedom, and Veterans Day salutes all who served, regardless of where or when.

Veterans Day was birthed from the cessation of hostilities between the Allies and Germany on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. Originally called Armistice Day, Nov. 11 would go on to become an official U.S. holiday in 1926, and after World War II and the Korean War, it would be renamed Veterans Day in 1954, as a day to honor all veterans of all wars and eras.

Veterans Day is our holiday, but it comes with a responsibility to properly welcome home all who serve, to help them transition back into our communities, and to help them obtain the benefits and programs they earned from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Veterans Day also comes with the responsibility to educate the many who have never experienced the honor of swearing an oath of allegiance not only to the Constitution of the United States, but to our battle buddies as well.

In my position as the national commander of America’s oldest and largest major war veterans organization, I have the high honor of working for and giving back to veterans, service members and their families every day.

To me, every day is Veterans Day, and I invite every American to adopt the same mindset, because America remains the land of the free because of the brave.

On this and every day, Happy Veterans Day.

Brian Duffy is the national commander of the 1.7 million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and its auxiliary. Readers may email him at Chief@vfw.org.

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