Sacrifice, dedication, integrity—these are values that were on proud display this morning in the Capitol Rotunda, as part of the annual Veterans Day program presented by the Madison Veterans Council.
The hundreds of us who were in attendance had the honor of witnessing the presentation of our nation’s colors led by the Sons of the American Revolution Color Guard, and joining proudly in the Pledge of Allegiance.
As the strains of the Star Spangled Banner echoed through the Capitol, it reminded me of our own duty: to honor veterans of all wars every day by advancing the ideals of democracy. We can accomplish this task in many ways: by joining or supporting the military, by becoming involved in local government, or simply by engaging in thoughtful conversations with those around us about the future of our nation. It is the responsibility of us all to protect the freedoms generations of veterans have fought to maintain.
Veterans Day was originally called Armistice Day, in honor of the temporary ceasing of hostilities that was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in World War I on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. It became a federal holiday in 1938, and evolved into a day to honor American veterans of all wars. It was renamed Veterans Day in 1954.
If you are interested in learning more about our military history, but were unable to attend today’s ceremony in the Capitol, I encourage you to visit the Wisconsin Veterans Museum (http://www.museum.dva.state.wi.us/).
With that, I leave you with a quote from President Woodrow Wilson, who dedicated the holiday on November 11, 1919:
"To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with lots of pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.”