Freedom does not come cheap. The first colonist to this new land learned that lesson in the hardships of they faced. The lesson was reinforced on the battlefields of Saratoga and Yorktown. It was taught again at places like Gettysburg and Shiloh. It was redefined on the Marinot Line and on Omaha Beach in a place called Normandy, on Pork Chop Hill in Da Nang, the mountains of Afghanistan and the deserts of Iraq.

These are the names that fill our history books and line newspaper headlines and that are a part of heritage as Americans. These places, whether on our land or abroad, have stood and continue to stand as reminders that freedom is purchased at a high cost.

This is not unique, since we have come to realize that freedom is the most prized possession on earth. There is always someone or some force that waits to take it away from us if we are not vigilant; if we stand unwilling to pay the price for it.  What is unique and wondrous and marvelous is the fact that, America has never lacked individuals who are willing to come forth when the need arises to pay that price with their honor, their devotion, and, when necessary their lives.

The former English colonists fought for the unheard of idea of living their lives free from oppression never asked if it was going to be easy. They saw the need and fulfilled it. They gave themselves unselfishly and with the greatest devotion to the ideas of liberty. Through their efforts a new nation was forged.

Yet, their sacrifices, as wondrous as they were, share equal rank with those men and women who have come forth to serve their country in times of trouble. If the colonists were heroes, then so are those that battled in the sands of North Africa, the mountains of Italy, and the steaming jungles of the South Pacific. And, so were those who, in the face of ridicule from their peers, believed enough in the concepts of liberty to trudge through the rice patties and jungles of Viet Nam. And, in today’s world to face the threat of terrorism in the mountains of Afghanistan and the deserts of Iraq. All were and are heroes.

These are the veterans. These are the men and women who left their homes, their safety, and their comfort to place themselves in the front lines and on the battlefields in order that freedom would continue to thrive and flourish.

These are the veterans. These are the men and women, in the words of President John Kennedy, asked not what their country could do for them but what they could do for their country.

These are the veterans. These are the men and women who gave themselves in the belief that they were defending liberty; a belief if they did not live to see it would be entrenched for generations to come.

These are the veterans that we honor on this November 11th; as they have honored us through their service and devotion, let us honor them in our thoughts and our hearts-today and throughout all of our free tomorrows. 

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