This year, Veterans Day marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, which ended on the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918. It changed the course of the Twentieth Century.
World War I was a new kind of warfare, a global conflict fought with new technologies, like airpower and chemical weapons. The war that was fought to make the world “safe for democracy” forever changed the way we fight.
But the essential element of that fight to defend our freedom is our people. Veterans Day is the day we pause to remember those who have fought in every American war, both before World War I and since.
During the past eight years, the First Lady and I have made supporting our military, their families and our veterans a priority.
We’ve met thousands of Maine veterans, and each of them has touched our hearts.
Our men and women in uniform are dedicated to protecting the freedoms we share today. They put their lives on the line and make many sacrifices to keep our nation free.
Many members of our Armed Forces have made the ultimate sacrifice, and for them we are truly grateful.
We also thank the families of our veterans and of our active-duty service members, as well as our Gold Star families.
We can never repay our veterans, but we can honor them and treat them with the dignity and respect they deserve. My administration has made veterans a priority. Jobs, education, state park passes and taxes are just some of the areas where Maine demonstrates our appreciation for our veterans.
Our veterans returning from World Wars I and II and Korea were welcomed home with much appreciation.
But our Vietnam Veterans were not extended the same warm welcome, despite having served their nation with honor.
The dignity, service and endurance of these heroes reminded us that we must do all we can to show our appreciation for those who served our nation
As a result, the members of our Armed Forces have been treated more respectfully and with greater gratitude and understanding. It was a difficult lesson to learn, but we have taken it to heart.
Maine has the second-highest number of veterans by population of all states, and their active presence in our communities reminds us of the need to give back as they have given and continue to give us.
For those veterans and their families who want to take advantage of any service we provide for veterans, please contact the Bureau of Veterans Services. The Bureau is there to help, and their website provides information to assist you and your loved ones.
On this Veterans Day, Ann and I call to mind all our heroes who bravely fought in World War I and the joy they must have experienced to know that the terrible war was over at last.
And we thank all our veterans for their selfless devotion to our nation. We will always be in your debt.