On this upcoming Veterans Day, Americans will pause to reflect, remember, and honor those brave Americans who have served our Nation in uniform.

Currently, there are 19.6 million living American Veterans—ordinary citizens who did extraordinary things for all of us.

They are our mothers and fathers, our brothers and sisters, our aunts and uncles, our children, and our neighbors.

Collectively, these Veterans made possible the fulfillment of our national values, expressed so well 243 years ago in the Declaration of Independence:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."

This solemn tradition of honoring those who secured for us the peace and freedom we enjoy every day traces its roots back to the 11th hour, of the 11th day of the 11th month—the precise time and date of the Armistice that ended World War I in 1918—101 years ago this year.

     

Congress passed a law in 1938, officially making November 11th, Armistice Day, a national holiday. In 1954, another law changed the name to Veterans Day, formally recognizing it as the time to honor all who have served.

     

On this day, we salute those who paid the price of freedom, from the "Minutemen" of the American Revolution to those men and women in desert camouflage who have fought and bled for our Nation in Afghanistan and Iraq.

     

Remembering their service is one small way of repaying the debt America owes its Veterans—those who offered their lives so that others might be free.

     

So, as we salute Veterans, we can reflect that long after the guns fall silent, the cost of freedom continues to be paid.

     

This Veterans Day, we reflect, remember, and honor them all. We draw inspiration and resolve from the valor of those who came before—the resolute G-I’s who scaled the Nazi-fortified cliffs of Normandy, the valiant Marines who conquered fire and ice at the Chosin Reservoir, the men and women who never failed America in the battles of Southeast Asia, or their grandsons and granddaughters, sons and daughters, who liberated Kuwait and continue to serve in Afghanistan and Iraq today.

At the Department of Veterans Affairs, every single day is Veterans Day. We trace our very existence to President Abraham Lincoln’s devotion to Veterans … and his steadfast belief that their service must be justly recognized by a grateful nation.

VA is dramatically transforming to best care for those who have served. They deserve our best efforts in all we do for their service and sacrifice.

More than 1,500 employees of the Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System stand ready to honor the service of those who have taken up the challenge laid before our Nation, and to provide them the benefits and services a grateful Nation offers in return for what they have done for all of us.

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