Setting the tone for all the other service chiefs on Veterans Day, America’s top four-star thanked all past and present soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen, Space Force Guardians, and Coast Guard personnel for protecting the republic.
“These great Americans fought for their brothers and sisters in arms to their left and their right, but they also fought to ensure that war would not arrive on American soil,” US Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote in his Nov. 11 message to the troops. “Our veterans served to preserve democracy and to protect the very idea that every American is free and equal. They committed their lives to the ideals of our Constitution — the very idea that is America. Our troops have stayed true to their oath and their commitment to the American people.”
The Pentagon estimates there are roughly 18 million veterans of the armed forces scattered nationwide, and Milley called every one of them “living proof of the character, commitment, and compassion” of the communities they came from, and to which they returned after taking off the uniform.
“The cost of liberty is always high and the fight against tyranny requires extraordinary sacrifice,” Milley continued. “Our veterans served across the world at great personal cost. They sacrificed immensely to ensure we hand freedom over to our sons and daughters.”
At the bottom of his letter, Milley scrawled a personal note: “We are the land of the free because of the brave. Thanks to each and every one of our veterans on this day and every day.”
Marine Commandant Gen. David H. Berger fired off a message to his service on Nov. 9, the eve of the Corps’ birthday and two days before Veterans Day, that took his troops back to the final moments of World War I and the establishment of Armistice Day to honor the peace that fell over Europe on Nov. 11, 1918.
He pointed to the decision by President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Congress 36 years later to change the holiday to Veterans Day.
Berger quoted Ike, the retired 16th chief of staff of the Army, to urge his Marines to “solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us reconsecrate ourselves to promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain.”
In their joint message to citizen soldiers and airmen, Chief of the National Guard Bureau Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson and Senior Enlisted Advisor Tony L. Whitehead urged their troops to “tell the story of who and what inspired you to serve.”
“Tell the story of the people you’ve met in the armed forces, the missions you’ve performed, and the difference you’ve made,” they continued. “In telling your story, you uphold the legacy and memory of America’s veterans — a proud and patriotic tradition, centuries strong, whose deeds will live forever.”
But don’t live the holiday too hard, added the commander of the Army’s Joint Readiness and Training Center and Fort Polk in Louisiana.
“Enjoy your well-deserved holiday and return to work safely,” wrote Brig. Gen. David W. Gardner and his top enlisted advisor, Command Sgt. Maj. David P. Hanson. “Remember each one of you is a vital member of the JRTC and Fort Polk team and we can’t afford to lose you to careless or reckless behavior.”