The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month marked the end of World War I. Since then, this date has been celebrated, first as Armistice Day and now as Veterans Day, but no matter what we call it, the day honors our nation’s heroes - those who have served in the military, our veterans.

As the son of a World War II veteran who served as a waist gunner on B-17s, I grew up in a family with values rooted in military tradition. My father remained in the military until he retired from the Air Force as a Master Sergeant after 20 years of service.  At an early age my brother, sister and I were taught about the sacrifices our men and women in uniform make. Growing up in this environment gave us an understanding of the unique challenges military families face and also made Veterans Day one of the most meaningful observances for my family and me. 

This year, as we honor our veterans, our military continues the fight to keep us free.  While our troops’ successes in Iraq will allow them to return home by the end of the year, the global fight to defeat terrorism continues in Afghanistan and other countries overseas. Through selfless sacrifice of our service men and women, both past and present, we are protected from our enemies. They make the United States a safer place to live. They have heard our nation’s call and met the challenge with their service.

Throughout the history of our country, millions of men and women have answered the call  to serve America in our armed forces.  Each generation has stepped forward and defended our freedom.  And because of our veterans, America remains the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Today, I hope you will take a few moments to thank and honor a veteran.  We owe our deepest gratitude to the men, women and families who have served and sacrificed for the freedoms we know today.