Expressing Gratitude for Our Veterans

November 11, 2013

San Mateo Daily Journal
Guest Perspective

By Jerry Hill

On Nov. 11 each year, our nation celebrates Veterans Day, a day set aside to honor the courage and sacrifices of our nation’s veterans. This tribute is for the more than 23 million current American veterans and to the countless millions more who have made the supreme sacrifice throughout the history of our country.

Nov. 11 was first observed in 1919 as “Armistice Day,” to commemorate the Armistice Agreement which ended World War I. That war was considered so terrible that it was mistakenly called “The war to end all wars.” One generation later we were fighting World War II. In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower broadened the meaning of Armistice Day when he officially designated it Veterans Day, to recognize all those who have served in the military.

Our nation is strong and secure because of the dedication and courage of our men and women in the uniform of the U.S. Armed Forces. Our military possesses advanced technology and weapons of incredible power, but it is the commitment of those who serve that protects our freedoms and safeguards our country.

Our veterans represent the best of America. They come from every walk of life, every part of society. In their military roles, they served selflessly, away from family and loved ones, often placed in harm’s way and ready to make the ultimate sacrifice. They exemplify the rich tapestry of our nation, the multitude of cultures that make the United States unique. Our veterans embody the character of our communities, and they have much to share.

We express our thanks to all veterans for their patriotism and their service. As one example of all of our outstanding veterans, I will refer to a man who is, in my judgment, the quintessential veteran. He is Chaplain Leo McArdle, who has been named 2013’s Veteran of the Year in the 13th California Senate District.

McArdle served eight years in the U.S. Army, including a tour of duty in Vietnam. Now he is a volunteer with many military and veterans’ organizations, groups that work to ensure that our nation’s heroes receive military honors befitting their rank and status. As a chaplain, Leo provides comfort to veterans and their families, especially during times of separation or loss. McArdle’s commitments are exemplary in his devotion to our armed forces, our veterans, our communities and our nation. His values and actions are worthy of emulation.

It is important that we take time on Veterans Day to express our profound gratitude to the millions of living American veterans who have fought to preserve our way of life. Through their service, these men and women have kept America secure against those who would harm us throughout the years. We must let our veterans know that they are appreciated, and that their service and sacrifice will never be forgotten. Our veterans are deserving of honor, for they have earned it. When members of the armed services transition out of the military we acknowledge our obligation to assist them as they return to their homes and families, and take their places in our communities. They are the quintessential Americans.

Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, represents the Peninsula in the California Senate.