By Chief Master Sergeant Gregg Kollbaum
314th Airlift Wing Interim Command Chief
“This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.” — Elmer Davis
In 1918, after years of conflict in Europe, World War I came to an end on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. At that time on that special day, Great Britain honored allied veterans and laid to rest an unknown soldier. This historic event honored the sacrifices of all those who served and the eleventh of November was subsequently designated as Armistice Day by France, Great Britain, and the United States. The United States laid to rest an unknown soldier in 1921, as did other countries that fought in the Great War. Later, in 1954, President Eisenhower designated Nov. 11 as Veterans Day to honor the men and women who have defended the United States and the cause of freedom.
I can remember celebrating Veterans Day as a child. There was a parade with a color guard and men riding around in big trucks making lots of noise and smoke. There were flags for miles as both the people in the parade and the crowd proudly waved Old Glory to show their respect for our heroes. The celebration continued all day with great food and patriotic music playing at the park. The Veterans Day activities were always fun but as a child I couldn’t grasp the impact of the accomplishments of the people on the trucks.
As I have grown older, Veterans Day serves as a day of reflection. I can only imagine the challenges faced by our country’s oldest veterans, the men and women of the Revolutionary War. They had the responsibility to secure our freedom from the British and defend our newly drafted Constitution that established the way of life we cherish today. Since the birth of our nation, every generation has fought to defend our constitutional freedoms by taking part in regional and global conflicts that have tested the resolve of our country and our veterans.
Today our military continues to have a legacy of brave men and women that answer the call. They have taken an oath during a time of war to defend those same principles that the revolutionary soldiers took on over 200 years ago. Our military today has awesome responsibilities. Our youngest members operate and maintain millions of dollars in equipment. They protect and support thousands of people. They provide hope to many nations of the world by eliminating terrorists, building nations, delivering humanitarian aid, and many other activities to strengthen democracy in a turbulent world. Few Americans answer the call to serve and carry the great responsibility to defend our nation. Veterans Day is a day to honor the brave that keep our land free.