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Eighty-four years ago, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, World War I ended. That war was called the war to end all wars. Tragically 21 years after the Armistice, a far more devastating war engulfed the world.
It must never be forgotten that American veterans have made the ultimate sacrifice many times since that "war to end all wars," to preserve and defend freedom all around the globe. Many others returned home and still bear the scars of war. Armistice Day on Nov. 11 has evolved into Veterans Day - a day to honor all those who served this country in our time of need.
The United States has found it necessary to defend freedom many times since World War I. Time and again, patriotic Americans have answered their nation's call, asking little in return. They felt it to be their duty as Americans to fight for their country. To me, this is the definition of a veteran.
Veterans Day reminds us that we are honoring those that were willing to put their lives on the line for freedom. They were willing to be sent to far-away lands and fight wars, knowing they may not return, so that others could live in freedom. It really gives me pause when I stop and consider exactly what we as a nation have asked our veterans to do.
Although you rarely find veterans who asked what was in it for them as they marched off to battle, this nation does owe a debt that can never be repaid.
It is hard to imagine anything that would come close to adequately repaying someone who was willing to risk life and limb for those whose sole connection was that they, too, were Americans.
This Veterans Day comes against the backdrop of debate at the United Nations on a resolution to return weapons inspectors to Iraq. If Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein does not permit inspectors full access to search for weapons of mass destruction in his country, we could well be facing a new conflict in the Middle East well before our next Veterans Day rolls around.
This Veterans Day, my last in the U.S. Senate, I join all Alaskans in saluting our nation's veterans. I encourage everyone to take the time to thank someone they know who is a veteran. Thank them for the freedom enjoyed by all Americans. I would like to take this opportunity to do just that. To all veterans, thank you from the bottom of my heart for ensuring that my children and grandchildren remain free.
Sen. Frank Murkowski