These may be uncertain times in almost every corner of the globe — including here in our beloved United States — but one thing that is crystal clear is the unwavering bravery and valor shown by so many who have served America in one branch of the Armed Forces or another.
Saying “Thank you for your service” doesn’t seem to be enough, though we are, indeed, incredibly grateful.
Today, Veterans Day, every citizen should pause and reflect upon all the great things that we have in this land, all the liberties, all the freedoms, all the opportunities — even as divided as we are today. We should think about the brave and honorable men and women who have fought to secure those blessings not just for us but for all freedom-loving people around the world. No nation, in fact, has ever done more, or given more, in the name of freedom than the United States of America, and for that, each one of us should be proud.
This is a special Veterans Day as well in that it marks the 100th anniversary of the signing of the armistice that ended World War I, one of the bloodiest and deadliest conflicts in history. Exactly a century ago, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the fighting ended and the world celebrated.
World peace, however, didn’t last long; it never does. Another war — the Bolshevik Revolution, which led to the Russian Civil War — even broke out while WWI was still going on. A statistical website called freakonometrics asserted in 2017 that the United States had been at war for all or part of 222 of its first 239 years of existence. And that’s just the U.S.
Since the Revolutionary War, which had approximately 217,000 U.S. servicemembers, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that nearly 42 million Americans have served in wars, and that does not include the current Global War on Terror. There have been 1.1 million U.S. lives lost in wars, including over 650,000 directly in battles. The VA estimates that in WWI alone there were 53,000 battle deaths, 63,000 other service-related deaths and 204,000 non-mortal woundings.
No more WWI U.S. veterans survive today — the last one, Frank Buckles, died in 2011 at the age of 110 — but so many of us had relatives who fought in it or in one of the other 12 wars in which America has been involved.
We should pause to remember them more often than we do, but today, in particular, we honor them, we celebrate them, and we say not only “Thank you for your service” but “Thank you for your sacrifice.”