“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

It’s a solemn promise, made by those raising their right hand, not only to the officer administering the oath, but to every American, to every other service person, and to him or herself. Most take the oath with a bit of apprehension, even an inkling of fear. Whether in peace or wartime, the possibility of going into harm’s way is an ever present companion.

On this day, once called Armistice Day, now named Veteran’s day, all of us should reach out to thank those who have served. Without them, our freedom to sweat the small stuff would not exist because they sweated the big stuff. They bled for the big stuff. Many have died for the biggest stuff. Our freedom.

“This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.” — Elmer Davis

From the beginning of this great country, men and women have been willing to step up, to be counted among those willing to defend the freedom our ancestors risked so much to achieve. From the frozen fields of Valley Forge to the hot desert winds of Iraq, Veteran’s have never broken their promise; they have never broken faith with us.

It is easy to remember those who President Lincoln described as having given “the last full measure of devotion.” We place flowers on grave sites. We hold parades. But, lest we ever forget, no one escapes a war unscathed. All are wounded. Some have obvious, egregious wounds. Others carry a wound deep in their soul. All must be remembered.

Since this country was founded, almost 50 million Americans have worn the uniform, serving and defending us. Of those, over one million defended us with their lives, with their last full measure of devotion. Most did so not without fear, but with courage. It has been said that “courage is a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a willingness to die.” Those who sacrificed all did so with a willingness to die for something very precious.

In the end, life is fragile. So too is liberty. But liberty cannot survive without a readiness to fight for it. To die for it if necessary. As an American, I believe that a life worthwhile cannot b elived absent liberty.

On this Veteran’s Day, I say thank you to all those who have served, both living and dead. I salute you. To those who serve today, I cannot find the words to express my gratitude. I can only say I sleep at night confident in the protection you offer. God speed to each and every one of you.

AuthorDoug Spiker