It has been 101 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 with “Armistice Day,” and what we now call “Veterans Day” was born.

These words of President Wilson from a century ago still resonate in our hearts,  “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.”

Freedom is not free, and so many have been called to serve heroically. More than 50 million Americans have served in the Armed Services. 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.

Even the most heartfelt expression of gratitude seems inadequate. If you are a veteran, thank you for your service. If you or someone from your family is serving our country in one of the Armed Services today, thank you.

Whether you are grieving the absence through death of a beloved veteran on this day or thinking back to those who have served in previous generations, perhaps the words of the Psalmist will bring you solace: “We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you” (Psalm 33:20-22, NIV).