On Friday (November 11) this country will celebrate Veterans’ Day. The day was known originally known as Armistice Day. But why the 11th of November? Because major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour (11 A.M.) of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. And why (and when) the name change? In 1953, an Emporia, Kansas man, Alvin King, had the idea to honor all veterans, not just those who died in World War I. With the help of U.S. Representative Ed Rees, also from Emporia, a bill for the holiday was passed by Congress, and President Dwight Eisenhower signed it into law on May 26, 1954. Congress, on June 1, 1954, replaced “Armistice” with “Veterans,” and it has been known as Veterans’ Day ever since. So there is a lot more to Veterans’ Day than just a paid holiday for federal government employees.
Today we hear quite a bit about the “super committee,” comprised of six Republicans and six Democrats, that is charged with reducing the federal budget and, therefore, the deficit. It has until Nov. 23 to formulate recommendations or activate the “trigger” that will initiate automatic cuts in defense and entitlement spending. Defense comprises about 20% of the entire US budget. In 2010, defense spent $530 billion, not including war costs.
What, you ask, is the “trigger?” The Debt Ceiling Deal, struck in July, 2011, proposes, among other things, a $350 billion cut in the defense budget over the next ten years. If the “super committee” fails to reach its goal, an automatic reduction (the “trigger”) in spending will occur, with half coming from domestic spending (about $600 Billion) and half (about $600 billion on TOP of the $350 billion already cut) coming from the defense budget.
Former U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said on July 31, 2011, “Defense has already taken hugely disproportionate cuts under President Obama, and there is simply no basis for expanding those cuts further. Republican negotiators [on the supercommittee] must hold the line, since the Obama Administration plainly will not.” Army General Martin Dempsey warned that it would be “extraordinarily difficult and very high risk” to cut $800 billion from defense spending as part of efforts to reduce the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt. He continued, “National security didn’t cause the debt crisis nor will it solve it.” General Joseph Dunford, assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, said, “I think if they were to exceed $400 billion we would start to have to make some fundamental changes in the capability of the Marine Corps. That would mean a smaller force and a reassessment of its strategic mission.” General Philip Breedlove, vice chief of staff of the Air Force, said cuts of $400 billion will cause “quite some concern” about money to replace the Air Force’s aging aircraft fleet. Strategic bombers are, on average, 34 years old, refueling tankers 47 years old, and airlift planes 19 years old.
From these remarks by people who KNOW their business and are not just vote buying, “freedom is not free.”
In the interest of full disclosure, yes, I am a veteran, so I cannot be objective here. And I am sure that I speak for a vast majority of veterans who will say that we do/did serve because of love of country.
But that’s just my opinion.