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Veterans Day: A day to honor, remember and reflect

  • Published
  • By Maj. Gen. Floyd Carpenter
  • Eighth Air Force commander
When President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11, 1919, as the first Armistice Day, he was celebrating the signing of the armistice that ended World War I on Monday, Nov. 11, 1918, at 11 a.m. He also dedicated the holiday as a day to remember and honor "... the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory ...."

In 1954, after World War II and the Korean War, Congress renamed Armistice Day to Veterans Day as a way to honor the veterans of all wars. Today, the holiday stands as a day for America to honor, reflect and pay tribute to all veterans past and present who have served and sacrificed in defense of our great nation.

In addition to spending time with family and enjoying Veterans Day events, I encourage members of the Mighty Eighth to think of personal examples of how veterans have impacted your life. Perhaps you come from a family where generations have served in the military or the heroism of those who served saved the life of, or gave freedom to, someone in your family suffering from tyranny. Or maybe your personal examples are family members or friends who have defended our nation by serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. Whether the connection is past, present or some of both, taking time to remember and reflect on veterans and sharing these reflections with friends and family is one of the greatest ways we can honor those that have served and those who have given the ultimate sacrifice.

For me, my recent trip to Guam provided an opportunity to visit the Raider-21 Memorial honoring five Barksdale Airmen and one Airman from Andersen Air Force Base who lost their lives when their B-52 crashed off the coast of Guam on July, 24, 2008. It was a somber reminder that our success and achievements as an Air Force also comes with the heavy price of sacrifice. It also reminded me of the legendary sacrifices made by Airmen of the Mighty Eighth who have gone before us. I hope all members of the Mighty Eighth realize how important they are and that they are part of a proud legacy of service to our Air Force and our nation.

Lastly and perhaps most importantly, Veterans Day is an opportunity for me to thank the Airmen serving in the Mighty Eighth today who will carry our legacy into the 21st Century and beyond. Thank you for your steadfast dedication to our mission of providing our nation with safe, secure and effective combat forces for nuclear deterrence and global strike operations. Every day, without fail, you perform an extremely demanding dual-role nuclear and conventional mission that requires a laser-like focus on excellence in everything that we do. And every day, without fail, your selfless service and professionalism continues to amaze and inspire me. That is why, on this Veterans Day, I honor your service to your nation and have never been more proud to be a part of the Air Force family.