NOBLE IN SERVICE

Many of us recall the words of John Fitzgerald Kennedy: "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." Veterans Day... we pay tribute to our American veterans and to all of our current armed service personnel. They are to never be forgotten. We are indebted to them, and we salute them for their extraordinary bravery and noble sacrifice. And to their loved ones, we express heartfelt tribute as well.

The story of America has been written, in large part, by the selfless and noble deeds of hard working and dedicated men and women committed to liberty and justice in a free society. Our American Veterans and Service Personnel are, among others, truly endemic of that ranking. We commemorate Veterans' Day to honor the men and women who have served in our Armed Forces. We pay tribute to them for their virtuous defense of our homeland and liberty, and thank them for their sacrifice on our behalf. As General Norman Schwarzkopf often quipped, "It doesn't take a hero to order people into battle, it takes a hero to be one of those individuals who go into battle."

Indeed, the legions of those who served in the past and who are currently serving help to preserve the dignity of a free society. Their dedication to duty is the springboard which supports freedom. The great American story is that we, as a society, are able to govern ourselves and our wrongs are able to be controlled by balances of power. Truly, our veterans represent freedom at is best and liberty at is finest. They are our national heroes and warriors. The cost of freedom is not purchased in a lump sum. It is paid in installments by our veterans and members of our armed services. What Winston Churchill said of the royal Air Force is true of our veterans and our heritage, "Never before have so few, done so much, for so many."

On November 11, 1918, at 11 AM, the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the Armistice was signed which ended the First World War. Thereafter, November 11 was celebrated as Armistice Day. After World War II, that date became known as Veterans Day and we are proud on that date and every day to honor all who served and are serving our Country.

Over the course of our history, some 42 million Americans have served---and more than one million have given the supreme sacrifice--so that we and future generations of Americans might live in freedom. We, as Americans, are the beneficiaries of their noble courage, unselfish sacrifice and untiring dedication; and so too are countless of freedom-loving people around the world.

In the past century alone, through two world wars and the long, tense struggles of the Cold War, and on the front lines in places such as Korea, Vietnam, Beirut, Grenada, Panama, Somalia, Haiti, the Persian Gulf, the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan, our brave men and women in and out of uniform have risked their lives. They risked all they had to protect U.S. interests, assist our allies, promote peace, and to protect the lives of others. They fought our enemies on foreign shores, at sea and in the air to preserve freedom. They had no second thoughts as to what had to be done. Thanks to their extraordinary record of brilliant service, more people now live under freedom than at any other time in history. And as Ronald Reagan said, "America has a God given calling" to be a beacon of freedom and hope for the world. He often mentioned that "freedom is not reserved for a noble few, but for all humanity." His vision of a "shinning city on a hill" serves as a reminder of the awesome responsibilities of such a great nation to extol freedom and liberty as the universal right of all people.

President Kennedy once said, "Democracy is never a final achievement. It is a call to untiring effort, to continual sacrifice and to the willingness, if necessary, to die in its defense." We give thanks to the veterans and to the current members of our Armed Forces for showing that willingness. Whether serving on bases and in ports at home or deployed across the globe, they have endured hardship and danger to protect our Nation and to defend freedom loving people around the world. Their deeds of commitment and valor bind us in our past, inspire us in the present, and strengthen us to meet the demanding challenges of the future. George Patton was known to have said "it is wrong for us to mourn the loss that died in battle. Rather we should thank God that such individuals had lived." And so, as a former US Marine ... this columnist proudly proclaims ....SEMPER FIDELIS...always be faithful.