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Congressman Tom Cole

Representing the 4th District of Oklahoma

Work Preserving Freedom Never Finished

November 10, 2014
Weekly Columns

Throughout the history of the American military, hundreds of thousands of men and women have volunteered to serve a cause greater than themselves. By taking an oath to defend our borders, preserve our values and ensure our freedom, these brave individuals understand the true price of freedom. Without question, they deserve our utmost appreciation both during and after their selfless service to our nation. 

This year marks a hundred years since the start of the First World War, often called the “war to end all wars.” Knowing little of what was before them, the young men who volunteered were looking for adventure and freedom. Instead, they found themselves involved in the deadliest conflict of that time and an unprecedented catastrophe that has shaped the modern world into this century. The tragic conflict was finally brought to an end when the armistice was signed between Allies and Germany on November 11, 1918 at precisely 11 o’clock in the morning. 

Exactly a year after this peace agreement, Allied nations honored the 10 million military deaths and approximately 7 million civilian deaths by remembering the terrible tragedy through Armistice Day. In 1954, President Eisenhower signed into law legislation that expanded the observance to “all veterans, veterans’ organizations and the entire citizenry (who) will wish to join hands in the common purpose.” For this reason, Veterans Day recognizes those who served in all conflicts, including World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War and in the Middle East.

Today, there are more than 21 million veterans living in the United States. Our gratitude for service members and their families and those who paid the ultimate price for our freedoms shall never waver. Just as they volunteered to protect our nation both at home and abroad, we have a duty to them when they return from combat and remember those who did not. 

Especially in times of war, we must keep the promises we have made to those who have served our nation. That must include quality and reliable care through the Department of Veterans Affairs and ensure they receive the benefits they have earned. Whether serving on our own soil or directly in harm’s way overseas, the lives of our military and veterans are invaluable. 

While we take a special moment this week to remember those men and women who have demonstrated their patriotism and love of country, it is important that we honor them every day. The work of protecting and preserving freedom is never finished.