One family’s story of the debts we owe our veterans

Published: 10 November 2022

By Daniel N. Hoffman
via the Washington Times newspaper (DC) web site

Illustration on Veterans Day by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times


To all veterans: Thank you for your service to our grateful nation

In 1918, after the end of World War I, my grandfather, who had served in the Navy, and his brother, who had served in the Army, returned to their hometown of Boston, where they had a tearful reunion both feared would never come to pass when they deployed overseas. Exposed to chemical weapons on the battlefields and in the trenches on the barbaric Western Front, my great-uncle suffered from poor health and died a young man.

I never met my great-uncle, and my grandfather never spoke of the Great War with me. But it was their legacy of service to our nation that deeply inspired my own career path.

Speaking on Veterans Day 1989 at Arlington Cemetery, the late Colin Powell, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, lauded the courageous WWI veterans who “showed the whole world that Americans were prepared to leave the safety of our continent to defend the ideals of peace, freedom and democracy for those threatened by aggression. They returned to their homes in the United States and helped to build this nation into the greatest the world has ever known.”

Originally known as Armistice Day to mark the end of WWI, Veterans Day began honoring those who served in the U.S. armed forces in 1954 thanks to Raymond Weeks, who served in the Navy during World War II and successfully petitioned President Dwight D. Eisenhower for a holiday dedicated to all the nation’s veterans, living and deceased.

Our honored veterans and their families hold the most distinguished record of sacrifice to keep our nation safe. They have answered every call to serve in harm’s way and keep us safe, preempting threats before they are visited on our shores.

All of us surely long for the day when our national security does not demand so much sacrifice and risk from our men and women in uniform. But the world is more interconnected today than at any time in our history.

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