November 11 is officially recognized as "Veterans Day," an important opportunity for all Americans to say "thank you" to veterans and their families, remembering the selfless service and personal sacrifice of our nation's true heroes. However, we should not allow our profound appreciation and gratitude for the men and women of our armed forces to be limited to just one day of the year. Every day should be Veterans Day, as we take the time and make the effort to let America's heroes know just how much they are appreciated!
TAKE PRIDE IN, AND SHOW GRATITUDE FOR, OUR NATION'S HEROES
Veterans Day had its origins as "Armistice Day," which marked the World War I ceasefire between nations arriving at the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, in November of 1918. In his proclamation a year later formally declaring Armistice Day, President Woodrow Wilson expressed a profound sentiment that every American should take to heart. The President's proclamation stated the following: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations."
President Wilson's statement reflected the pride all Americans could take in the courage and dedication of the nation's armed forces who served in World War I. Those feelings of pride were true back in 1919 and are still true some 92 years later as we recognize the enduring commitment of our nation's veterans who served during that war and have courageously defended America ever since. The United States is blessed that its best, brightest and bravest have always answered freedom's call.
CONGRESS DECLARES NOVEMBER 11 A NATIONAL HOLIDAY, RENAMES ARMISTICE DAY "VETERANS DAY"
In 1926, Congress enacted a resolution directing President Calvin Coolidge to issue a proclamation that year (and for every succeeding President to do so ever thereafter) marking the formal observance of Armistice Day. Armistice Day would continue being observed as such until June 1, 1954 when President Dwight Eisenhower signed legislation changing the name of the legal holiday from Armistice Day to "Veterans Day," the name we still use today.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO OBSERVE VETERANS DAY, EVERY DAY
As mentioned earlier, America's heroes are more than deserving of an entire year's worth of public recognition and our continued gratitude. The fundamental American freedoms that so many of us take for granted - freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from fear - would cease to exist if it were not for our men and women serving in uniform. Here are a few of the many things you can do to observe Veterans Day 365 days a year.
VISIT SAMPSON VETERANS MEMORIAL CEMETERY, THE FINAL RESTING PLACE OF NEW YORK'S HEROES
I will always remember the summer of 2011 for the privilege it provided me to express thanks to our veterans and their families. It was on July 30 that I had the personal honor of being asked to speak at the dedication ceremony for Sampson Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Seneca County. If you have not yet had the opportunity to visit the Cemetery, located at the site of the former Air Force Base, I strongly encourage you to do so as this final resting place for New York's true heroes is an impressive sight to behold. Visitors - myself included - are immediately awestruck by the power, dignity and solemnity of the Cemetery.
During my remarks, I said that with neighboring Waterloo serving as the birthplace of Memorial Day, the dedication of the Sampson Veterans Memorial Cemetery meant that we have a proper final resting place for New York's heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice. I asked the crowd of more than 1,500 to join me in expressing our personal thanks to the men and women that have so proudly served our country. You can view my full remarks at the Sampson Veterans Memorial Cemetery dedication ceremony on YouTube at this link: http://youtu.be/xffwTmXCQEc.
THANK A VETERAN!
While it might seem like a small gesture, simply saying "thank you" to a veteran can send a powerful message. If you see a member of our armed forces in uniform, be sure to thank them. You can also visit a local Veterans of Foreign War or American Legion Post, as well as a Veterans Administration Hospital and deliver this message. From a public policy standpoint, there is much federal, state and local governments can do to help veterans. This includes ensuring that veterans have access to the best medical care, supporting their families stateside during overseas deployments and assisting with job opportunities for returning veterans. There is a clear role for the public sector in helping improve the quality of life for our veterans.
TAKE A MOMENT TO REFLECT ON FREEDOM'S COST
Our freedoms should never be taken for granted. Preserving our country, its values and our liberties have come at a terrible price for so many veterans that have given everything in service to America. Taking a moment to reflect on freedom's cost - not just on Veterans Day, but every day - helps ensure we never forget that fact. God bless our veterans!
As always, constituents wishing to discuss this topic, or any other state-related matter should contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.