This nation will remain the home of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.
—Elmer Davis, director of the Office of War Information during World War II
As we mark Veterans Day, here is a thought to bear in mind: On that day a memorial service will be held at Arlington National Cemetery where lie buried more than 400,000 people, the vast majority of whom served in the military. That is a sobering reminder of the debt we owe the men and women of our Armed Forces and a call to honor all those, living and dead, who have served our nation in war and peace.
Their service goes on. To help fulfill its global mission, our nation maintains some 750 foreign military bases spread across 80 nations.
Veterans Day was first known as Armistice Day, marking the end of World War I. In the US, it is celebrated every November 11, for on that day in 1918, WW I ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower officially changed the name of the holiday to Veterans Day in 1954 to honor all those who have served their country during war or peacetime. In 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Holidays Bill, which moved the celebration of Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October. The law went into effect in 1971, but in 1975 because of the historical significance of the date, President Gerald Ford restored Veterans Day to November 11.
According to a Census Bureau summary, there are 16.5 million veterans in the U.S., 1.7 million of whom are female and 24.4 percent of whom are 75 or older.
Even as we honor their military service, let us remember that they continue contributing to American society long after their time on active duty. They serve as police officers, firefighters, teachers, scientists, entrepreneurs and public servants. They are among the most active volunteers working in local organizations across our country. They use the lessons they’ve learned and the experiences they’ve acquired in the military to improve our communities.
And so, on this Veterans Day, let us remember the men and women who have sacrificed so much for our Country, especially those now in Veterans Hospitals. We must honor them, now more than ever, for their dedicated service to the United States of America.
Robert L. Dilenschneider is the Founder and CEO of The Dilenschneider Group, an international communications firm that provides strategic advice and counsel to Fortune 500 companies and leading families and individuals in fields ranging from mergers and acquisitions, to crisis communications, to marketing, government affairs and foreign media.