Veterans Day 2018


Editor’s note: Printed here is the speech written and read by VFW Dept. of Oregon State Commander Rick Higgins at the Veterans Day Memorial Celebration in Creswell last weekend.

It is my great honor to serve as VFW Department of Oregon State Commander. I represent 14,848 VFW members and 5,000 VFW Auxiliary members statewide. If you qualify for our organization please talk to one of our members – we need your voice. We advocate for veterans.
This year, Veterans Day has extra meaning as 100 years ago, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, the Great War – the war to end all wars – finally ended. Originally created in recognition of the end of World War I, the first Veterans Day was observed on Nov. 11, 1921 at Arlington National Cemetery, and was marked by the burial of the Unknown Soldier from World War I.
Even nearly 100 years later, as we gather to reflect on those who have fought to preserve the freedoms every American enjoys, there are thousands of men and women in our military, once again, taking up arms against the enemies of our way of life.
Like generations of patriots who came before them, these few shoulder the burden for many. They serve because they know it is necessary for the greater good. Now, more than ever, it’s important that we take time to thank the men and women who selflessly sacrifice to serve in our armed forces.
It is because of their dedication and sacrifice that we celebrate Veterans Day: To recognize and honor all those who have placed country above self, who have determined the safety and security of others as more important than their own, and who have done their duty by taking their place in line just as generations of military men and women have done before them.
To those of us who have worn or continue to wear the uniform of our great country – and to our family members who stand just as strong at home – there is no doubt that Veterans Day brings with it a meaningful significance. To every American veteran, Veterans Day means much more than just a federal holiday.
It is on this day when we honor the contributions and sacrifices of the more than 22 million veterans and service members who have proudly served our country, and all those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the name of liberty and justice.
Every generation of Americans undoubtedly owes a debt of gratitude to these brave patriots… and we must do everything we can to make sure the men and women who serve in today and tomorrow’s military receive what they need to accomplish their mission of safeguarding America’s interest. As an organization comprised solely upon people who have been there ourselves, we are well prepared. As circumstance and necessity demands, our military stands ready to do whatever is needed to defend our nation just as we at the VFW stand ready to provide them with the support and assistance they need long after their service is over.
Our men and women in uniform today share the same military ideas and experiences of yesterday’s veterans: They chose to serve because they have a common belief in a cause higher than themselves and a share sense of duty. They willingly assume all the risks associated with maintaining our freedom and liberties and preserving the ideals of democracy. More than anyone, veterans understand the real meaning of America.
Maintaining the strength of the American ideal requires courage and constant vigilance, as well as sacrifice. There should be no doubt that without the sacrifice of our veterans, without their love and dedication of spirit, tyrants and evil would prevail.
If we could make any demand, I would demand my fellow citizens grant our keepers of peace and protectors of our freedoms… our veterans… with the care and respect they so richly and rightfully deserve. Those of us who care to honor America’s heroes gather because we are honoring our sons and daughters, our mothers and fathers, and our brothers and sisters, who are serving on behalf of everyone in our great country – just like the generations of American patriots did before them.
Time and again, our country has confronted countless challenges, and I know we will face many more in the days and years ahead. But the citizens of our great nation can rest assured that our values and freedoms are being fearlessly guarded by the greatly determined and highly dedicated military: gallant soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen who willing bear the cost of America’s wars – and continue to stand watch over America’s peace.
For every single man and woman who has donned a U.S. military uniform, by virtue of their service and sacrifice, today is their day to stand tall and be recognized by a grateful nation.
Today, and every day, we must take the opportunity to keep alive the memories, sacrifices and accomplishments of our nation’s veterans, and we must embrace every occasion to educate future generations, the public and elected officials on the accomplishments, importance and needs of our nation’s veterans.
I hope as we leave here today (Sunday, Nov. 11), each of us will be motivated and inspired by the deeds and accomplishments of patriots past and present. I hope this motivation will help lead us into a brighter future, armed with a renewed sense of patriotism and purpose. We must remain committed to a stronger nation and to our veterans, for it is our veterans who have sacrificed and paid the highest price for all of us.



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