Honoring our veterans

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

On Veterans Day, it is our honor and privilege as free Americans to express our heartfelt gratitude to our veterans.

Some of you may not know the history of Veterans Day and how we came to celebrate it on Nov. 11. It comes from the armistice signing in 1918 between the Allies and Germany, ending World War I. This armistice took effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, meaning the remembrance of this event would take place on Nov. 11, no matter which day of the week the date fell, making it a distinct and special recognition.

The following year, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 Armistice Day, to honor both the veterans and the lives lost in World War I. This day of respect continued to be known as Armistice Day until 1954, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation changing the name to Veterans Day, honoring veterans of all conflicts in which the United States had taken part, including World Wars I and II and the Korean War.

Like the rest of our nation, our communities are all too familiar with the pain of war. We have prayed, worried and mourned with our neighbors as loved ones were wounded or gave their lives for American freedoms. We have also joined our neighbors in celebrating the safe return of loved ones. Southwest Missouri is an amazing example of the love and support that I hope all soldiers feel.

Without the sacrifices of our soldiers, we would not have the basic freedoms we take for granted every day: the freedom from fear, both abroad and at home; the freedom to worship God; the freedom to speak our minds without persecution. As a father and a husband, I am sometimes struck by how our lives might be and the dangers we may have faced without the generations of American soldiers who met the call to protect our freedoms.

As it is inscribed on the Korean War Memorial in Washington, D.C., the words "freedom is not free" could not be more true. The cost of freedom was paid for by the blood, sweat and tears of America's veterans and their families. Veterans are and always have been an important part of our country and our history. And they've never asked for much.

But as a state and nation, we owe them much. Few veterans will boast about their service, though their courage speaks plainly. While we may never be able to fully repay our debt of gratitude to the more than one million American service members who died defending our country, we can pay tribute and say thanks to the more than 22 million veterans still living today, including our own Missouri veterans. Let us never forget it, or them, and let us always remember they are the reason why we are able to continue living in the greatest country in the world.

This Veterans Day, I hope everyone took the time to attend a ceremony or remembrance, a parade or school assembly, or, the very least, to take a break from our busy lives for a moment to thank a veteran. Please, always keep them and their families in your prayers, and find ways to express your gratitude to them when you have the opportunity.

As always, I welcome your ideas, questions and concerns about Missouri government. You may contact me at the State Capitol as follows: (573) 751-1480; david.sater@senate.mo.gov; or by writing to Sen. David Sater, Missouri State Capitol, Room 433, Jefferson City, MO 65101.

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