From the Halls of Montezuma,
To the shores of Tripoli;
We fight our country’s battles
In the air, on land, and sea.
-United States Marine Corps Hymn
When President Woodrow Wilson first declared in 1919 that Nov. 11 would henceforth be recognized as “Armistice Day” — renamed “Veterans’ Day” in 1954 — who could have imagined the historic role the armed forces of this emerging, young nation would come to play in the 20th century and beyond? Who could have imagined that the Stars and Stripes of the United States of America — and the soldiers who proudly hoist it high — would become known worldwide as a symbol of liberty over tyranny?
Although select members of political establishment shy away from proclaiming “American Exceptionalism,” this nation in its short yet glorious history declare otherwise. And no other sector of this nation embodies that exceptionalism more than the United States Armed Forces.
Whenever tyranny arises — whether its Nazi fascism in Germany, communist totalitarianism in Russia and Asia, or radical Islamic extremism in Afghanistan, Iraq, New York City, or Fort Hood, Texas — American soldiers faithfully rise against it. In a world of increasing uncertainties, the American serviceman has remained steadfast and true.
As people of America look back at all of the places where the cry of freedom has beckoned its soldiers to battle — “from the Halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli,” from the blood-soaked beaches of Normandy to the rugged mountains of Afghanistan — our only response can be gratitude and awe.
So on Veterans’ Day last week, and every day of the year, it was, and is, altogether fitting that Americans pause in reverence to thank veterans young and old for the willingness to “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”