100 years ago today, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month an armistice to the “War to end all wars” was declared. So, we celebrate Veteran's Day every Nov. 11 and today we remember…
When the world was yet in darkness, and the lots of men and women were still largely decided by their birth; when kings and queens and all manner of tyrants ruled over the fates of men and women; an American army of farmers pulled the world out of the abyss and helped mankind discover the self-evident truth that they had been created with certain inalienable Rights that among those were Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. They sacrificed for the greater cause of shrugging off the chains of non-consensual rule and burdensome government, and they laid the ground work for an establishment of government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Thus, the American veteran brought self-rule back into the world.
When the institution of slavery loomed large and self-rule was threatened by the question of session, it was the American military that finally stepped into to settle the debate and save man’s “last best hope on earth.” They marched southward singing “…as He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free.” Thus, the American veteran brought liberty for all.
When the skies darkened over the European and Asian Continents and the entire globe was thrust into war for the second time in a generation; when entire peoples were threatened with being annihilated; when socialism masqueraded as liberty and hatred as enlightenment; when the murderous drive for absolute power threatened the entire world with tyranny of the worst kind; it was the American veteran who stayed the hands of monsters and brought the world back to peace and order. It was the American veteran who helped set the stage for a burgeoning era of liberty. Thus, the American veteran saved the world from itself.
When that spread of liberty was threatened by the iron curtain of communism it was the American veteran who stopped every advance. When the radical religious zealots sought to terrify the entire free world, it was the American veteran who brought the fight to their doorstep. Wherever peace was threatened for the past half century, it was the American veteran that answered the call.
Election season has come to an end, but remember that whenever you cast a vote; whenever you exercise the privilege of considering what candidate or issue to vote for; whenever you take a stance on a political issue; whenever you freely argue politics among friends and family; whenever you read an article critical of your government or see a march or demonstration; every time you go about your day free of fear that at any moment you may be killed or thrown into prison for no reason and without any trial; remember it was the American veteran who paid for those gifts for you. Remember that though governments may derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and though you may have been created with inalienable rights; it was the American veteran that proved those propositions and forced the world to recognize and respect their truth.
The American veteran, men and women of every race, color, creed and orientation have sacrificed mightily and purchased with their lives and efforts much that we take for granted every day. The American veteran who lived and continues to live out the core values of honor, duty, integrity, service, courage, commitment, loyalty, excellence and respect has paid an unimaginable price for all of us.
In one of the most famous American wartime letters, Major Sullivan Ballou, who was killed in the First Battle of Bull Run wrote to his wife Sarah the week prior to his death. The letter and the man exemplify those values and show how great the sacrifice truly was. He wrote:
“…I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans on the triumph of the Government and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and sufferings of the Revolution. And I am willing — perfectly willing — to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt …
Sarah my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battle field.
The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them for so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when, God willing, we might still have lived and loved together, and seen our sons grown up to honorable manhood, around us...”
Now it is to us to care for and celebrate him and her who have borne the battle; and also to thank and celebrate the families that have supported and continue to support them. It is fitting that we take this day each year to remind ourselves of their sacrifices and say thank you.
We know many of our AARP South Carolina members are veterans who continue to serve and contribute to their communities. To you, we say thank you. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you.