Today we celebrate Veterans Day, a holiday that honors all American veterans, living or dead, who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.
On the “11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month” in 1918, the Allied nations and Germany agreed to an armistice, ending World War I, which is generally regarded as “the war to end all wars.” It became known as “Armistice Day,” and is commemorated by many countries.
One year later, in Nov. 1919, President Woodrow Wilson declared Nov. 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day. On June 4, 1926, Congress passed a resolution that stated, “Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations.” But it wasn’t until 1954 when the 83rd U.S. Congress renamed Armistice Day, striking the word “Armistice” in favor of “Veterans,” and President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the legislation and later issued the first “Veterans Day Proclamation.”
I served in the U.S. Air Force Junior ROTC for 22 years, served on active duty for 20 years and retired as a master sergeant from the U.S. Air Force in Feb. 1993. In my U.S. Air Force career, I was stationed in Washington state, North Dakota and Alaska. I arrived in the Middle East in 1990, two weeks after Kuwait was invaded, and left two weeks after the war ended.
No other citizen can fully grasp what it means to be in the military. Some veterans went to war, some served during peacetime, some came home missing limbs, some came home with mental health issues and some never came home at all. The years a veteran serves create a life-changing experience built by the training we go through, the places where we are asked to serve and our willingness to die for our country. All veterans, no matter when they served, are brothers and sisters in arms, sharing a bond that will be with them for their entire lives.
The highlight of my career was serving in Desert Shield and Desert Storm as a postmaster at the largest Air Post Office, located in what can only be described as “the middle of nowhere.”
I was responsible for serving the postal needs of around 10,000 U.S. Air Force personnel and for providing augment support for about 30,000 U.S. Army personnel. Because we were one of a few 24-hour post offices in the Middle East, we managed and processed 1.5 million pounds of mail. The internet was just in its infancy, so “snail mail” was the primary way military personnel communicated with their loved ones back home.
When Desert Storm began, our office was converted into a standby morgue. Thankfully, we never had to use the makeshift morgue because, although we were attacked twice with scud missiles, patriot missiles were successfully launched to intercept them.
For our efforts and my leadership ability, I was awarded the Bronze Star, my highest military honor. I proudly wore the U.S. Air Force uniform for 42 years and am honored to be a veteran.
My faith has guided me through the toughest times in my life, including Desert Shield and Desert Storm. When I started working with My Faith Votes in 2016, a nonprofit organization that mobilizes Christians to vote in all elections, the leadership instincts I honed during my time in the U.S. Air Force greatly influenced the way I volunteered. In 2020, I volunteered to be a state coordinator as part of My Faith Votes’ action partners network, and I am now state coordinator for five states. I feel without the leadership experience the Lord gave me during my time in Saudi Arabia, I would not have been able to step up and take on the challenge of leading with this organization.
Roman statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero once said, “Poor is the nation that has no heroes, but poorer still is the nation that, having heroes, fails to remember and honor them.” These days, we’re bombarded with ever-changing, media-created heroes. But they pale in comparison to the real American heroes: my fellow men and women of the U.S. armed forces, who took on the duty of protecting our freedoms, our homeland and the defenseless around the world.
Let us be a nation that remembers and honors all those who have served our country, not just on this Veterans Day, but every day for the heroes they are.
So from one veteran to all the rest: God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.