“History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid.”
— President Dwight D. Eisenhower
When it comes to honoring those who have served in the US military, Tooele County citizens have a strong tradition of making sure their gratitude is genuinely expressed in heartfelt words and action.
That tradition will continue to grow this weekend with a series of events to honor local veterans and to commemorate the national holiday that occurs Monday (see related front page story). The events are open to everyone and all are encouraged to attend.
And the reasons to do so run far and deep. But those reasons are all tied to one essential truth: Our soldiers have protected our democratic ideals during war and peace, and they have made sure the tyranny and oppression that have caused wars in other countries never reached US soil.
The one-day attacks of Pearl Harbor and 9/11 challenge that truth, but the wars that came afterward were never fought in America. Because our soldiers have done their job so well abroad, we have been spared — except for the US Civil War — from war’s grim realities at home.
For that we have much to be thankful. Yet, citizens who have never fought in battle may find it hard to relate to those who have — or regrettably, feel entitled to America’s freedom and lifestyle without dignity, respect and admiration for our soldiers who have fought to protect it.
Veterans Day is an opportunity for all of us to relate and to show our appreciation for those who have served and come home. It is often confused with Memorial Day, which began in the 1860s after the Civil War to remember and honor soldiers who died in combat.
Veterans Day was founded by President Woodrow Wilson on Nov. 11, 1919, one year after the official end of World War I. It was originally called Armistice Day. The holiday honored World War I veterans, but in 1954 it was changed to include all military veterans. Except for a brief period in the 1970s, Veterans Day has always been held on Nov. 11.
Our country’s commitment to set aside Nov. 11 as a national holiday to honor veterans is an expression of thankfulness and respect. But unfortunately many veterans struggle to receive Department of Veterans Affairs benefits.
We continue to see that struggle as incompatible and contradictory to the very purpose of Veterans Day. Persistent effort is needed to create lasting change and improvement within the VA system for our veterans who deserve better.
The importance of Veterans Day and the soldiers for whom the holiday honors can be summarized in a famous quote by Benjamin Franklin. When asked what he and the founding fathers had created after they finished writing and signing the US Constitution in 1787, Franklin reportedly said, “A Republic. If you can keep it.”
Thanks to the courage and sacrifice by veterans in Tooele County and across America, that Republic has proudly endured 232 years. Our deepest gratitude to every veteran who has come to know that freedom cannot be entrusted to the “weak or the timid.”