Veterans Day 2020
Wednesday, November 11, is Veterans Day—the day on which we honor the more than 17 million living persons who have served in the United States Armed Forces.
It was originally celebrated as a remembrance of the armistice that brought an end to World War I, which went into effect at “the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” in 1918.
The Armistice Day celebration that was inaugurated in 1919 was celebrated annually until 1954, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation that refocused the holiday as Veterans Day—formally recognizing it as a day to honor all those who have served in the armed services.
President Eisenhower, who had helped lead the Allied Forces to victory in Europe during World War II, understood and was deeply committed to the welfare of our veterans. He declared that “it is well for us to pause, to acknowledge our debt to those who paid so large a share of freedom's price.”
However, President Eisenhower believed that honoring the service of our veterans requires us to go well beyond merely setting aside a day to commemorate their service.
In honoring the veterans, “we renew our conviction of individual responsibility,” President Eisenhower asserted. He insisted that to truly honor those who have bravely served our country and fought to protect our freedoms, we must commit ourselves “to live in ways that support the eternal truths upon which our Nation is founded, and from which flows all its strength and all its greatness."*
He called on all Americans to be patriots. His standard for how we honor those who have served our country with distinction is to embrace the foundational values upon which their service and our country was built.
As we approach Veterans Day 2020, I find this to be a very compelling perspective. Freedom must be protected by all of us, not only those who serve in the Armed Forces. We are each called to patriotic duty and civic responsibility. American democracy is a team sport, and it requires the participation of all of us.
I salute our veterans—and I am particularly aware and appreciative of the hundreds of veterans who are now part of our Adventist HealthCare team. Your service has helped protect the lives of all of us. Your example challenges us to live in ways that support our democracy and affirm our freedoms.
*Remarks at Dedication of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Memorial Building, February 8, 1960.