In the history of our nation, more than 50 million have served their country in the uniforms of the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Navy, the five branches of the US Armed Forces. Well over a million Americans have died in armed conflicts in defense of our country. More than a million more have been wounded while defending our freedoms. These numbers are hard for us to fully comprehend and are altogether sobering.

My grandfather served in the Armed Services during World War II, in Germany. I grew up with respect and pride for the spirit of sacrifice he embodied for me. He helped establish in me a love for our country and a sense of gratitude for the brave service of the men and women who served as he served.

Going back to an even earlier generation, it has been 99 years since “the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month” marked the end of World War I.  President Woodrow Wilson began the practice of observing the anniversary of that day the very next year, and what was originally called “Armistice Day,” and now is called “Veterans Day,” was born.

On that day almost a century ago, President Wilson said,  “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.”

To all our veterans—thank you.  Thank you for everything you’ve done for our country.  You’re among the best our nation has to offer.  God bless you and your families as we honor you on Veterans Day.