Veterans Day

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month…this moment in 1919 was supposed to mark the end of hostilities on the Western Front in Europe, bringing to a close the “War to End All Wars.” The mechanization of World War I, combined with the introduction of chemical weapons, brought suffering and horror the world had never seen before.

The Allied nations joined to celebrate Armistice Day: a day to mark appreciation and remembrance for the Veterans who fought in the skies and trenches of Europe. Each nation hoped to honor their living and dead while solemnly celebrating the hard-fought victory. The reminiscence was also meant to remind the world to never embark upon such a path again. Sadly, World War II elevated the pain and suffering of World War I to an unimaginable level. The atrocities committed, cities and lives ruined, and humanity foregone once again demonstrated the sacrifice required to protect our way of life.

A personal witness to the sacrifices in Europe and Korea, President Eisenhower renamed Armistice Day to Veterans Day in 1954. It became a day to honor the veterans of all wars. Over the years, Veterans Day has come to be one of this nation’s most somber, yet hopeful, of days. It links our past with our future through the eyes, stories and memories of dedicated Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines.

As we fly into the future, we should strive to understand the importance of the sacrifice of those who came before us. Our nation, born of bloodshed, endures because of the strength of its founding values that generations of Americans continue to defend. I encourage you to take a moment this Saturday and remember our heritage as Americans and Airmen, from Lexington and Concord to Iwo Jima, from Kitty Hawk to Dover. We are all united by the belief in something greater than ourselves, and the understanding that preserving it requires self-sacrifice both great and small. In doing so, you are setting the standard for those Americans who will follow.

Men and women of Team Dover, thank you for your service. Thank you for raising your hand in support of something greater. Thank you for your Excellence, Integrity, and Service before Self. As President Lincoln so eloquently conveyed the importance of honoring our Veterans in the Gettysburg Address:

“But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate -- we cannot consecrate -- we cannot hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.”

#Aim High…Dover Pride!