The Rushmore Report: Honoring Our Veterans

Veterans Day originated as “Armistice Day” on November 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and November 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938. Unlike Memorial Day, Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans – living or dead – but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served our country honorably.

In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower officially changed the name of the holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day. We have been celebrating Veterans Day every year since.

Here are some facts about the veteran population of the United States.

  • 16.1 million living veterans served in at least one war.
  • 5.2 million veterans served in peacetime.
  • 2 million veterans are women.
  • 7 million veterans served during the Vietnam War.
  • 5.5 million veterans served during the Persian Gulf War.
  • Of the 16 million Americans who served during World War II, about 558,000 are still living.
  • 2 million veterans served during the Korean War.
  • 3 states have more than 1 million veterans: California (1.8 million), Texas (1.7 million), and Florida (1.6 million).
  • The VA health care system had 54 hospitals in 1930; it now has 171.

I love veterans. There’s nothing I enjoy more than shaking the hand of a veteran and thanking him or her for their sacrifice that makes life so much better for the rest of us.

My dad fought in World War II. His dad fought in World War I. My uncle was a veteran (WWII). My other uncle was a veteran (WWII). My great-great-grandfather’s brother was the Commander of the Army of Northern Virginia for the Confederate States of America. Perhaps you’ve heard of him – Robert E. Lee.

Supporting our veterans does not mean agreeing with every war and every policy of America. Supporting our veterans does not mean we voted for the current president or even like him. Supporting our veterans is an expression of patriotism and gratitude. Supporting our veterans means respecting the flag. It means standing for the playing of the National Anthem.

I don’t support the veterans because I’m a great American, but because they are. This Saturday is Veterans Day. Shake a veteran’s hand. Thank him or her for what he or she has done. And the next time you want to protest the direction of the country, have at it. But don’t diminish the sacrifice of the veterans who fought to give you that right in the process.

On this Veterans Day, don’t support the veterans because they are perfect or because America is perfect. Support the veterans because it’s the right thing to do.

It really is as simple as that.

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