On Veterans Day, We Recognize Commitment and Courage
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:
When I was a young boy, sometimes on trips to town I would see an old soldier or sailor on the street. The Korean War was still fresh in our minds, and World War II as well. The veterans I spotted didn’t go out of their way to be noticed. Folks around town just knew who they were and what they had done. They were some of my boyhood heroes, and on Veterans Day, the whole town turned out to recognize them.
As an adult, I understand better what heroes those veterans were. I recognize and appreciate what their service means, far more than I did as a child.
Sunday is Veterans Day. This year marks a century since the signing of the armistice that ended fighting in World War One. The armistice to end “The War to End All Wars’’ was signed in a railcar in a forest in France at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. The first Armistice Day was observed the very next year.
In 1954, President Eisenhower, himself an Army veteran and military hero, signed an act changing the name to Veterans Day. It’s a solemn time, a time to recognize the commitment and sacrifice of those who have served in the armed forces of the United States. It’s our chance to express, aloud in words and song or quietly in our hearts and prayers, our gratitude for their willingness to stand up for the rest of us and the country we love.
Throughout our history, our veterans have been responsible for the peace we’ve enjoyed. That’s important to remember. The late President Ronald Reagan said, “Peace fails when we forget what we stand for.’’ Our veterans are visible reminders of what the United States stands for.
Throughout our history, our veterans have been responsible for the security we’ve felt in our lives. Retired Gen. Martin Dempsey said security “demands effort, sacrifice, courage and commitment. It requires generations of men and women willing to go to distant lands to – as the Korean War Memorial in Washington says – defend countries they never knew and a people they’ve never met.’’
In the century since the armistice was signed in that rail car in France, America’s armed forces have served in the treacherous forests and villages of Europe, the hostile islands of the South Pacific, the frozen hills of Korea, the steaming jungles of Vietnam, the hot sands of the Middle East and the forbidding mountain passes of Afghanistan. They go where they are sent and they do the job they must.
On Veterans Day, we recognize that commitment and courage. We keep in our hearts all veterans, the fallen, the still missing and the ones currently on duty, whether at home or in a foreign land.
We can show our appreciation and gratitude by never forgetting our veterans. Please take a moment to remember – not only on November 11 but every other day, too – the women and men who served. They deserve no less.