First, a little history. World War I (“The Great War”), which claimed the lives of nearly 40 million human beings (including nearly 117,000 Americans killed and more than 300,000 sick and wounded), ended with a mutually accepted cease-fire on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. One year later, Nov. 11, 1919, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson declared the date to be “Armistice Day.” Many of our allies in “The War to End All Wars” called it “Remembrance Day.”
In 1926, Congress resolved to make every “Armistice Day” an occasion of “national observance.” In 1938, Congress passed a bill to make Nov. 11, “Armistice Day,” an official holiday. And finally, in 1954, Congress and President Dwight Eisenhower designated Nov. 11 as “Veterans Day,” an official federal holiday honoring all 18.5 million American veterans.
On this Veterans Day, we encourage all Americans to remember Nov. 11 as more than a day off work. No matter how you spend this holiday, we hope you will set aside some time to honor those who took the oath to ” … support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic … ” Since 1775, more than 1.3 million of our fellow vets have been killed in combat, and nearly 2.9 million others were wounded while serving our nation.
Those who donned our country’s uniform deserve our gratitude for their selfless willingness to go in harm’s way to protect us all. They, and the families of all who made the ultimate sacrifice, should know we grieve for their loss, pray for their comfort and salute them on behalf of all our countrymen.
This year, as we honor our veterans, we should remember our most recent losses: the 13 fallen heroes killed during the tragically flawed evacuation from Afghanistan. Here are their names. We urge you to clip this column and tape it to your refrigerator. Allow this to serve as an aide-memoire to thank our Lord for them — and pray for their loved ones left behind:
David Espinoza, Lance Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps
Nicole Gee, Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps
Darin Taylor Hoover, Staff Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps
Hunter Lopez, Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps
Rylee McCollum, Lance Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps
Dylan R. Merola, Lance Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps
Kareem Nikoui, Lance Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps
Daegan William-Tyeler Page, Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps
Johanny Rosario, Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps
Humberto Sanchez, Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps
Jared Schmitz, Lance Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps
Max Soviak, Hospital Corpsman, U.S. Navy
Ryan Knauss, Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army.
We honor these heroes and the 18 others who were wounded by the same suicide bomber. What happened to them in the closing days of our nation’s longest war should never have occurred.
Included in our prayers are the nearly 3.4 million young Americans — the brightest, best and bravest of their generation — who have volunteered to serve as Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Guardsmen and Marines since 9/11.
On this Veterans Day, every single member of our armed forces is a volunteer. Thanks to their willingness to serve, there have been no further terror attacks against our homeland, and no adversary has dared to attack us since that dreadful day two decades ago.
To paraphrase Matthew 25:21 and 2 Timothy 4:7: Well done our good and faithful warriors. You fought the good fight, you finished the race, you kept the faith. We thank God our country still has courageous young heroes who, when duty calls, are willing to step forward and say, “send me.”
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