Veteran's Day should be a very special holiday every year - but let's be honest, it's not. It's a day without mail. The banks will be closed. In some cases there will be no school. Some cities will have a parade, but those are few and far between.
This year is different. This is the year of September 11th. This is the year we have sent our troops overseas to protect our country. Our country, which has been attacked on our very own soil.
This year is different. This is the year we are reminded of all the past years when we have been safe. We have been protected all these years by the people we are honoring on veteran's day. But usually we forget. But, this year is different.
Some of us remember at least the aftermath of WWI - so many people died - so many people saved. We were safe again. But then came WWII - what would happen to us now? Not to worry, our soldiers were ready to defend us again - and they did. We were safe again.
They call Korea the Forgotten War. It certainly isn't forgotten by the thousands of families who sent their spouses and children off to protect us yet again, or by the soldiers who gave up their day-to-day lives to go off to a an unknown land to fight for freedom and yes, to keep us safe again.
Viet Nam. The most controversial conflict of all times. But thousands of brave soldiers put their politics aside and said, "We're needed. We must go". And off they went to the most God-forsaken of all locations and fought to keep us safe again.
And for a long time we were at peace. We were safe. Nothing to worry about. Then came Desert Storm. Our brave Americans were right there. A conflict here a casualty there. We were complacent. We were safe. These problems were on the other side of the world - and we were safe.
Then came September 11th. Now we have been attacked on our own soil. We have been invaded and violated in the most heinous of ways. We're not safe!
But once again, brave Americans stepped up to the plate and once again have offered their lives to make us safe. There were Reserves called in immediately. Navy ships filled with sailors took to the seas. The Air Force did not hesitate and the Army was ever ready when their call came in. The Marines never faltered and the Coast Guard never wavered.
These brave men and women stood ready to answer the call, long before September 11th. They were ready, just in case. They were prepared, just in case. They have been protecting us, without our knowledge through all the years we thought we were at peace. Through all the years we didn't pay attention to the wars in places we couldn't pronounce or locate on a map. They were preparing because they knew how important it was to be safe.
Yes, this year is different. This year we must finally pay attention. We are safe because brave American men and women make us safe. Safety is not something that just happens. It is fought for and should be cherished.
Make no mistake; we will win the war on terrorism. Our brave men and women in the armed forces will see to that, as they have since the days of the American Revolution when the first veterans fought for our freedom.
If we do not appreciate what has been sacrificed to keep us safe, if we do not acknowledge the courage and heroism of every one of our veterans, if we do not pray to God every day for their safety we do not deserve the wonderful gifts of freedom, liberty and life without fear they have given us.
This year is different. Let it mark the first year of many, many to come, when we finally acknowledge our debt to our veterans and thank them in a most sincere way for all they have given us.
God Bless America and God Bless our Veterans!