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On this day, in this month, 94 years ago, the guns of World War I went silent and our nation remembers this moment each year by recognizing the service and the sacrifice of our country’s veterans.
The millions of men and women who have donned with pride the uniform of military service have fought and sacrificed time and time again to build this country, to improve this country, and to defend the freedoms and ideals that define this country. Veterans have borne the costs of America’s wars, and they have stood watch over America’s peace. We owe them dearly, and on this day we celebrate them with our gratitude.
Today, this generation of service members and veterans face challenges unlike any other. Our active-duty heroes fight on in the global war on terror in every corner of the world, while our veterans at home fight for their rights and entitlements amid a storm of government delays and political impasses.
We must not stray from the promises we made as a people to care for those that defend our way of life. In the final throes of the Civil War, President Lincoln gave us the words our Department of Veterans Affairs adopted as its motto; To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan. We have a sacred trust with those who wear the uniform of the United States of America.
Unfortunately, we have been found wanting in our commitment to our warriors and fallen short on providing them with the care and entitlements they so honorably deserve. It is time we — as a nation — take the appropriate steps to restore our commitment to those who served our country. We must ensure that VA has the proper resources to do its job and that the back log of claims is eliminated. We must not tolerate Congress or other political officials using our veterans fodder in a never-ending partisan battle. Progress must be made and AMVETS will continue to work to ensure that veterans remain a priority. Through legislation and by supporting new initiatives, AMVETS will ensure the voices of veterans are heard and that appropriate action is taken to solve the problems that hinder veterans from receiving care and benefits.
Throughout history and among the pursuits of the present, whether it is times of peace or war, the roles our veterans play are undeniably what pre-serve our nation. These men and women come from all walks of life, but despite their differences they share a common bond, an unwavering love for this extraordinary country, and for all they do and have done, they ask not of us but offer to give more.
It must fall to us, to an indebted nation to meet their gallantry with gratitude. In the coming year, AMVETS must recommit itself to honoring the sacrifices of our veterans. We must mobilize our membership to get out and serve those who have served: from volunteering to aid our increasing homeless veterans population, to serving those within the walls of our VA and military hospitals. Start a new post, or recruit our younger veterans and bring new life into our great organization. We all must con-tribute in every way we can to make sure the actions of all veterans are met with appreciation.
Today, on this Veteran’s Day, honor those who have made America strong and free. Remember that America’s veterans epitomize a great cause, and whether they live in honor among us, or rest in valor below, they have earned our eternal gratitude.
May God bless our heroic men and women of our armed forces, the families that sup-port them, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.
John Mitchell is national commander of AMVETS.