By Kelly Baughman

As Veterans Day approaches, our thoughts turn to the many vets who have sacrificed to ensure the freedoms we enjoy every day.  And while some may have taken off the uniform, their service and loyalty to our country remains strong.  Their honor and integrity is what makes America the great nation we love, and for that we salute them.

Officially, Veterans Day is a day to honor those who have served or still serve our country.  Always held on November 11th, few people actually know the historical significance of Veterans Day.  Originally known as Armistice Day, it marks the end of hostilities of World War I that occurred at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month.  Therefore, the day is always recognized on November 11th, regardless of the day of the week the 11th falls on.

Originally set aside to honor the Veterans of World War I, it was made a legal federal holiday for all in 1938.  In 1954, Armistice Day was changed to Veterans Day to honor all American soldiers.

Navy Veteran, Jeremy Fogerty, said of what being a veteran means, “The experience I gained and the life lessons learned were invaluable to me in my everyday life.  When I think about what means the most to me about my time since joining, it’s the sense of family.  Things are not always easy while serving, but I know I can count on my brothers and sisters to always have a common goal in mind and to always have my back.  That’s what being a veteran means….comradery.”

Many, like Fogerty, believe that being a veteran is a special honor.  But others believe that you don’t have to be a veteran to understand the sacrifices that are made in order to keep our country free.

Retired Marine John Oswello said of Veterans Day, “While I personally served two tours in Iraq and two in Afghanistan, the real heroes are those we leave behind at home.  Veterans Day is every bit as important for our loved ones because they are the ones losing sleep at night when they can’t hear our voices….they have to tell our children that everything will be alright even when they are worried.  They keep it together when our children are born or go to their first day of school without us.  Our families are the ones who truly sacrifice, and they deserve to be honored just as much as we veterans do.”

This Veterans Day, remember that we all have mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and friends still out there putting their lives on the line doing a tireless job.  Veterans are a tie to our past as a nation.  Without those who fought bravely, we may have never gained our independence, ended slavery, or stopped the evil powers in the world that have continuously tried to break us, but have failed.  

This Veterans Day, take the time to thank those who have served or still serve, those who love them and have sacrificed precious time, and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice so that we all may live in peace with the freedoms we so often take for granted.