Veterans Day is a U.S. federal holiday observed on November 11th to honor and express gratitude to military veterans, both living and deceased, who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. It originated from the end of World War I when an armistice was signed on November 11, 1918. The holiday was later renamed Veterans Day to pay tribute to veterans from all eras. On this day, various ceremonies and events are held across the country to recognize the sacrifices and service of veterans, and people often thank veterans for their service and engage in acts of kindness and support for them and their families.
This year, as Veterans Day approaches, I find myself reflecting on the sacrifices made by our brave men and women in uniform, especially those who have faced combat in the War on Terror. I think about my son-in-law who will jump out of his first airplane at Airborne School this very morning at Fort Benning, Georgia. Today, as I drove into work I wanted to share with you some of my thoughts about the profound impact of the last 20+ years of war, as well as the enduring love I hold for our great nation and the state of Utah.
The War on Terror has been a long and arduous journey, one that has resulted in 7,077 combat casualties. These folks gave their all to protect our freedom, to ensure that the principles of liberty and justice endured, and to safeguard our cherished way of life. They are a testament to the courage and selflessness that define our military, and their sacrifice should never be forgotten. They didn't want to go to war, but our civilian elected leaders on both sides of the aisle determined it was necessary for our nation. They were asked and they went.
But there's another, often hidden, battle that many of us begrudgingly acknowledge. Since the beginning of this war, an astonishing 65,000 to 140,000 veterans have taken their own lives. These numbers are staggering, and they serve as a grim reminder of the toll war can take on the mental and emotional well-being of those who have served. As I remember our fallen comrades, l also think about those who continue to struggle with the invisible scars of war. I reflect on the countless calls in the middle of the night, the trips to the VA or UNI, and of course the many, many funerals.
My love for our country runs deep, and the state of Utah holds a special place in my heart. Its beautiful landscapes, strong communities, and unwavering support for our troops make it a beacon of patriotism. The spirit of unity that Utah embodies is a reminder of the ideals we all hold dear, and it inspires us to continue working towards a brighter future for all.
Freedom is a gift we must never take for granted. It's what makes our country truly exceptional, and it's a gift that has been defended by generations of brave men and women. The sacrifices made in the name of freedom are a testament to the resilience and strength of our nation. This freedom and opportunity is the primary reason millions of people enter or attempt to enter our country each year. They see what many of us struggle to see each and every day.
On Veterans Day, I try to keep in mind both those who made the ultimate sacrifice and those who continue to bear the weight of their service. I wish that we as a nation could come together to ensure that the legacy of those we've lost lives on, and that those who are still with us receive the care and support they need. I pray that the leaders in this great country understand the seriousness of their responsibility, as war once again stirs on the horizon. As I ponder my personal love for our country, I also feel a deep love for all of our fellow Americans and our commitment to preserving the freedoms that make this nation great.
I hope you all have a wonderful Veterans Day this week!
Command Sergeant Major, USA (RET)