Veterans Day Proclamations November 10 2016

(Part of BCF’S blog series: “Society, Selflessness, and the Scriptures")

The blog from November 6, 2015 highlighted the origination of Veterans Day in the United States.  See “A Symbol Of Selflessness.” It reminded us that selflessness is one of the hallmarks of those who serve in our military.  

In fact, there is a reason they call it military “service.”  The five branches of the U.S. military are all characterized by putting others first.  Some of the mottos for the five branches include:

  •  US Navy – “Not for self, but country”
  •  US Marine Corp – “Semper Fidelis” (Always Faithful)
  •  US Army – “This We’ll Defend”
  •  US Coast Guard – “Semper Paratus” (Always Ready)
  •  US Air Force – Several unofficial mottos, such as “Service Before Self” and “Fly, Fight, Win.”  

Each year since 1954, the U.S. President has issued a Veterans Day proclamation.  Although these find their way into obscurity rather quickly, they represent each President’s attempt to recognize those who serve us in this way.  Here are excerpts from a few of them, provided without comment, except to note the quote of Scripture in the proclamation by George H.W. Bush from John 15:13 – “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”  Jesus was, of course, referring to the life He was about to give for us.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1954 (the first presidential proclamation, issued by this highly-decorated five-star general in World War II)
Whereas  it has long been our custom to commemorate November 11, the anniversary of the ending of World War I, by paying tribute to the heroes of that tragic struggle and by rededicating ourselves to the cause of peace; and
Whereas  in the intervening years the United States has been involved in two other great military conflicts, which have added millions of veterans living and dead to the honor rolls of this Nation;
Now, Therefore, I, Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States of America, do hereby call upon all of our citizens to observe Thursday, November 11, 1954, as Veterans Day. 

John F. Kennedy, 1963 (President Kennedy was assassinated just 11 days after Veterans Day)
Whereas  this day has an important dual significance in that it gives each one of us an opportunity both to honor the dedicated men and women of all races and religious beliefs who have honorably served in our armed forces in time of war, and to reemphasize our determination to achieve world peace with patience, perseverance, and courage;

Richard Nixon 1972 (in the middle of the Vietnam War, in which 58,220 of our men and women died)
No group has sacrificed more for the cause of peace and freedom than the men and women who have proudly worn the American uniform. In serving God and country, they have sought not glory for themselves, but peace and freedom for us all. As a Nation, we owe them an enduring debt.

Gerald Ford, 1976 (providing a reminder of practical ways we can encourage our veterans and their families)
Veterans Day, 1976, can be made especially meaningful for our veterans who are patients in Veterans Administration hospitals by a visit from their relatives, friends and other Americans. Such a visit, however brief, will tell them as no words can that they have not been forgotten.

Ronald Reagan, 1987 (the bicentennial year of the signing of the U.S. Constitution)
Our observance of Veterans Day this year, the Bicentennial of the Constitution, reminds us in a special way of the service men and women who have made  liberty's  cause their own. Our fundamental charter lives on because through the years countless brave Americans have gladly willed to ``provide for the common  defence.'' No one is more responsible for securing ``the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity'' than our veterans.
 
George H. W. Bush, 1990 (the Persian Gulf War was started by Iraq in August of that year and was concluded on February 28, 1991)
The Bible tells us that no greater love has a man than this: to lay down his life for a friend. Our Nation's military veterans are brave and selfless individuals who, when duty called, were willing to put themselves in harm's way to defend the lives and liberty of others. 

George H.W. Bush, 1991 (It is noteworthy that, following the attack on Pearl Harbor  in 1941, he postponed college, enlisted in the U.S. Navy  on his 18th birthday, and became the youngest aviator in the Navy at the time.)
Memory is the first measure of gratitude -- those who are truly grateful do not forget the service that has been rendered for their sake. 

William J. Clinton, 1994
It is an extraordinary person who is willing to step in harm's way to protect others. Our Nation has always been blessed with an abundance of such men and women. We owe our veterans an inestimable debt of gratitude. On this day, we recognize how much they have done, and are doing, to make a better, safer tomorrow for all of us.

George W. Bush 2007 (in the middle of the Iraq War)  
Veterans Day is dedicated to the extraordinary Americans who protected our freedom in years past, and to those who protect it today. They represent the very best of our Nation. Every Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine, and Coast Guardsman has earned the lasting gratitude of the American people, and their service and sacrifice will be remembered forever. In the words of Abraham Lincoln: " . . . let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the Nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle . . . ."

Barack Obama 2015
Our veterans left everything they knew and loved and served with exemplary dedication and courage so we could all know a safer America and a more just world.   They have been tested in ways the rest of us may never fully understand, and it is our duty to fulfill our sacred obligation to our veterans and their families.   On Veterans Day, and every day, let us show them the extraordinary gratitude they so rightly deserve, and let us recommit to pledging our full support for them in all they do. 

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Gratefully, Steve Smith