It was on the stroke of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 that the world celebrated the end of World War I.
It became known as Armistice Day. It was occasion for parades, veterans dressed in old uniforms and bands playing the standard fare of patriotic songs.
In 1954, Congress renamed it Veterans Day to honor all those who have served in America's armed forces.
Many recall Veterans Day celebrations and even the stories of the Armistice Day celebrations and parades that our elder family members recount. This day seems to instill in each of us a spirit of America sometimes forgotten. On no other day of the year does it seem the spirit of our country and its honor is so strong within us.
On this day, all Americans are urged to recognize the hardships and sacrifices demanded from and faithfully accepted by the millions of men and women who have defended our land in war and in peace.
The purpose of this holiday is to focus our collective attention on the special ways our nation's veterans have made liberty's cause their own. No one is more responsible than our veterans for securing the blessings of freedom and liberty that we enjoy in this country.
Today, on this Veterans Day, we hope you will be among those that pause in the "11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month" to say a prayer for our fallen heroes who died in battle to form this government and to defend it through all the wars and other actions it has taken to maintain the principles of freedom we all enjoy. We hope you will remember those millions who survived but were just as zealous in adherence to their duties as those members of our armed forces who gave their lives while serving their country. We hope you will remember that the cause of freedom still is being fought for today as our military forces fight a global war against terrorism.
It is not just a day of remembrance, but also a celebration of the freedoms secured for all of us by our veterans.
And those veterans who are with us today still serve as citizens of the country they defended. They serve in countless ways, so let them know they are appreciated.
It is, after all, their day to remember a time, perhaps not so long ago, when they served in order that all of us can enjoy the many freedoms that make the United States the world's shining light of democracy.