It is appropriate that Election Day and Veterans Day come so close together. Like all of our freedoms, our freedom to vote is inextricably linked to the veterans who protect it.
We as citizens can remove our political leaders and replace them with others through free elections without a shot being fired. We have this freedom only because of the veterans who were willing to fire that shot in defense of liberty if necessary. Today is their day.
Though we should honor our veterans — our protectors — in word and deed every day, we single out Veterans Day to pay tribute to all of those who have served and to say “thank you,” knowing that our free society continues only because of the sacrifices made by our veterans and their families. President Ronald Reagan said that freedom in America is not passed “to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
Perhaps you already have plans for how you will celebrate Veterans Day. Perhaps you will go to a parade, attend a ceremony, or simply do something special for the veterans in your life. If you haven’t made plans for this special day, I want to recommend something to you: experience several generations of veterans first hand through the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress — www.loc.gov/vets.
This project connects you with individual veterans through the reading of their firsthand accounts of service. Story after story is told by ordinary Americans who were called upon to do extraordinary tasks in extraordinary times. Such is the foundation of our nation: the compilation of individual courage and sacrifice safeguarding our freedoms since America’s inception.
The story of freedom is found in the service of our veterans and active duty military members. It is a story worth sharing, and the Veterans History Project shares it well. I encourage you to invest some time learning from it, and I hope that you will encourage the veterans in your life to take some time to contribute to it. Their story is America’s story, and it must be preserved for future generations.
We live in the greatest nation on earth because it is free. To all who have served, I say again, “Thank you: for your sacrifice, for your courage, and for the gift of freedom that you have given to us all.”
Rob Woodall was elected last week to fill John Linder’s 7th Congressional District seat in the United States House of Representatives.