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Commander-in-Chief on Upholding Veterans Day

Posted at 05:12 PM on Saturday, November 10, 2007 by vermont

via VFW.org and VFW Magazine

Remembering Americaís warriors is often an afterthought for many Americans. Itís about time Nov. 11 is paid its proper respect.

Commander-in-Chief George LisickiVeterans Day, once a widely celebrated holiday, is increasingly forgotten by many Americans. One need only look at the poor turnouts at ceremonies on Nov. 11. With the percentage of citizens who have worn a uniform rapidly declining, appreciation for the sacrifices made by veterans is correspondingly diminishing.

To help counter this trend, VFW has long promoted Veterans Day as an opportunity to educate the public as to the meaning of this significant time each November. This task can best be accomplished by explaining the five ďWs.Ē

Who. As a nation, we remember all Americans who served on active duty in the armed forces. While those who died always remain prominent in our memories, they have a special time of mourning reserved for Memorial Day. Veterans Day is an opportunity to publicly commemorate the contributions of living veterans.

What. Collective as well as individual contributions to the nationís defense is what we are remembering. The outcome of any given military campaign is irrelevant hereóitís the sacrifices made at the behest of the country that are important.

Where. Across the land, the grounds of virtually every state capitol and county courthouse host monuments, memorials and plaques honoring those who served. They date back as far as the American Revolution and are as recent as Iraq. But paying homage to veterans need not necessarily be in a public place. Every private home also should serve this purpose when appropriate.

When. For some Americans, remembering veterans is a daily act. But as a nation, it is essential that we preserve the integrity of November 11 as that one extra-special day for the American people as a whole to pause in silence or demonstrate public recognition.

Why. Remembering gives true meaning to sacrifice and service. Millions of Americansí lives were forever altered because they donned a uniform to protect the freedoms and rights we take for granted. We owe an eternal debt of gratitude to them. And acknowledging Veterans Day is the time that debt comes due. Itís our way of keeping faith.

All of this is particularly relevant now, with the nation at war in Afghanistan and Iraq. There is no better example of how Veterans Day has moved from the public consciousness than in my home state of New Jersey. The state legislature and the New Jersey School Boards Association attempted to abolish mandatory teaching about the importance of Veterans Day. Thankfully, Gov. Jon S. Corzine vetoed that part of the bill dealing with this day.

This should serve as a reminder that vigilance is necessary. The 24 million veterans living in America deserve no less of us as an organization. It is often forgotten that legislative battles were waged over this day and its earlier version called Armistice Day in 1926, 1938, 1954 and throughout the 1970s. Letís not take its value for granted.

God Bless America
George Lisicki
VFW Commander-in-Chief

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