Today it has been 93 years since the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the time that marked the end to the Great War, the War to End All Wars, the war that, sadly, ended up being assigned a number, World War I, because it was not the last, merely the first of its kind.
If Americans have learned anything since 1918, it is that there never will be an end to the need for brave men and women to serve in the defense of their nation, and there never will be an end to the supply of veterans.
Because of this, there also never will be an end to the gratitude owed to those who willingly sacrifice all to preserve freedom.
This year, the nation finds itself watching two long conflicts come to an end. By the end of the year, all soldiers will be out of harm’s way in Iraq. The conflict in Afghanistan also is winding down. And yet new conflicts constantly arise. American forces this year have been called into action over Libya, although no ground troops participated. They were called to Africa to help put an end to the Lord’s Resistance Army, a renegade band that kills, rapes and kidnaps villagers with abandon.
Unlike many nations, the United States sends its young men and women into battle not only when the matter directly concerns national interests, but also when it concerns matters of humanity. Political differences color each conflict but the philosophy generally has been that the two are intertwined. While American soldiers do not come to the rescue in all cases of injustice worldwide, Americans have long appreciated that even far-flung instances of systematic inhumanity are threats to all of civilization and have a tendency to strike home eventually.
The U.S. military is awesome and deadly in its might, but noble in its pursuits. Critics will argue about instances of abuse and mistreatment, but these are uncovered and punished. Overall, this is a nation that uses its might not to conquer and occupy, but to destroy threats and help people establish peace and human rights.