There is a chill and crispness in the air that fall brings, as we head into the holiday season. Leaves are showing off their best colors before they drift to the ground. How fortunate are we to be able to live our lives free to enjoy the changes in the seasons and relish the many freedoms we have every day? We live in the land of the free because of the brave who served in our military. Duty, honor, country. Let me repeat: duty, honor, country. Not just words for our veterans but a way of life. The oath we take and the promises we make shape all of us into a cohesive unit with a common purpose of service before self in defense of our country. All who served should be proud of their service, and those who could not or did not serve should value the sacrifices military service entails.
Veterans Day originated after World War I — then thought to be the “war to end all wars” — a tribute to those Americans who fought in that conflict. Veterans Day was first called “Armistice Day,” when the fighting stopped on the 11th hour of the 11th day in the 11th month of 1918. That is why Veterans Day is always celebrated Nov. 11. After the Korean War in 1954, Congress changed Armistice Day to Veterans Day to honor all veterans who served in our military.
I believe in the greatness of America. We live in a land of opportunity, where our legacy of independence, personal freedom, individual rights and the liberty to pursue happiness is truly unique. However, our legacy does not come without a price. The understanding that our freedom is not free and is earned and secured for all of us by the sacrifice, patriotism, courage and commitment to our country our veterans live every day deserves recognition and gratitude from all of us. While our Constitution guarantees our freedom in writing, the execution of protecting our freedom relies on the strength and willingness of our military to bear the burden of carrying the torch of our exceptionalism, held high by Lady Liberty and supported by each veteran.
I believe what makes our fighting force so formidable is the spirit of volunteerism existing in our country. Young men and women choose to join the military. We are an all-volunteer force. The fortunate upsides of great training; being part of a team; realizing you are responsible to do your job and helping others to do the same; and the expectation that we all possess actionable leadership skills and have unlimited potential to exert leadership with empathy and compassion all result in a service member focused on service to others and service to a cause greater than self. However, the reality of military service comes with the understanding that many may be separated from the comforts of home and families for long periods of time and will most likely miss cherished family celebrations, like birthdays, anniversaries and the holidays. Unfortunately, the consequences of these separations can lead to physical and emotional scars hard to heal. The hard reality is that studies show that, the more times a service member is deployed, the more likely the service member will suffer post-traumatic stress disorder. Recent statistics report that 10% of deployed men and 19% of deployed women suffer from PTSD. Shockingly, 22 veterans decide to end their lives every day. All gave some; some gave all.
To all our veterans, past and present: Thank you! Thank you for volunteering to protect and defend our great country. Thank you for your discipline and leadership. Thank you for your patriotism, courage in the face of danger, service before self and personal sacrifice. Thank you, also, to your family for their sacrifice. We recognize the importance of military spouses, children and other family members as a vital part of the military family.
Veterans Day is celebrated once a year. Go out of your way to honor a veteran on Veterans Day. Veterans have earned the respect and recognition from a grateful and free nation. Understanding the sacrifice and commitment to our country, the patriotism and how the military secures our freedom and liberty perhaps should be appreciated, if not celebrated, every day. Freedom is not free, and its price is not cheap.
Rep. Jeff Hilovsky, R-Millsboro
Retired U.S. Air Force Reserve colonel
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