At 11 a.m. today, the 11th day of the 11th month, many Americans will pause to remember and thank all veterans of the U.S. military.
That was originally the time and date of the end of World War I, known as Armistice Day, in 1918. It became Veterans Day in 1954, a day to pay tribute to all who served in the U.S. armed services, including a growing number who were or became truck drivers.
Two leading veterans organizations — the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars — posted messages on their website in recognition of the day.
The American Legion’s National Commander Dale Barnett spoke of the sacrifices made by veterans, some even when not in uniform:
“Such is the case of Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler who died leading a Delta Force rescue mission of ISIS hostages held in Iraq on Oct. 22. A veteran of 14 combat deployments, his sacrifice is shared by four boys who are now fatherless and a wife who became a widow far too early. But another important part of his legacy are the 70 hostages who were spared brutal executions by an enemy that is as ruthless as any that America has faced.
“The willingness to face pain and death so others can be spared isn’t unique to just the fallen. Consider the case of two American veterans and their longtime friend when they bravely stopped a terrorist attack aboard a train bound for Paris this summer. Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone, Army Spc. Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Salder could have run from the danger when a heavily armed gunman boarded the train. Instead, Skarlatos said, “Let’s go,” as the men ran toward a future that could have easily meant instant death or maiming for them and all of the other innocent people within range.
“There is also the incredible story of Chris Mintz. As others were understandably fleeing from a mass shooting at Oregon’s Umpqua Community College on Oct. 1, the 30-year-old former Army infantryman bravely confronted the gunman at a classroom door as he attempted to save others who were inside. Mintz survived the attack and continues to recover after being shot five times.”
An excerpt of message about this day by the Veterans of Foreign Wars organization says, in part:
“History has provided us with extraordinary examples of their selfless deeds. They’ve brought hope, faith and liberty to millions of people around the world. The true number of people who have benefitted cannot be calculated and the number of erected memorials or speeches delivered doesn’t begin to represent the true scope of service our nations’ veterans have provided.
“The debt owed to the defenders of this great nation is ever-present and it is imperative that on this Veterans Day, we take the opportunity to keep alive the memories, sacrifices and accomplishments of our nation’s veterans.”
Communities all over the U.S. will host a variety of events n honor of veterans today. See where Veterans Day events are occurring.