It is a measure of how much we Americans revere those who have served us in the military that we set aside two separate official holidays to honor them. On Memorial Day, we pay homage to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for us.
Today, Veterans Day, we offer our heartfelt thanks to all who have served or are serving in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
Our thankfulness for those who have worn the uniforms of our country is multi-faceted. We recognize that those who fought for us during wars and smaller conflicts - and who continue, this very minute, to fight for us overseas - have thwarted specific enemies.
From Marines who fought their way across the bloody sands of Pacific islands to air crews who battled for control of the skies over Europe and sailors who overcame Hitler's U-boats and Japan's kamikazes, they saved us from destruction. In bitterly cold Korea and steaming hot Vietnam, they risked their lives for us.
In Iraq and Afghanistan, they hold at bay foes who seek to destroy us - and in a hundred other places and times, they have safeguarded us by placing themselves in peril.
But today, we honor those who have served in "peacetime," too. We are grateful to Coast Guard sailors who place their lives on the line when we need to be rescued at sea. We praise soldiers whose very training often is hazardous. And we look up to the sky in admiration of those who maintain a line of defense in the sky.
Thoughtful Americans understand our world is full of enemies eager to take what is ours, even down to our most precious liberties, at any time. They wait only for an opportunity during which they judge our armed forces can be defeated.
There never has been such a time. As long as good, brave, skilled men and women such as those who have served and who serve today stand between us and our foes, there never will be such a time.
We have so many reasons - more than we comprehend, most of the time - to be grateful to the millions of men and women, all around us, who have served us in the armed forces.
Today, then, we pause and, as a nation, offer our thanks to our most respected fellow Americans: our veterans.
Thank God for them. May He watch over them.