Veterans Day rolls around every year and for a 24-hour period — or even less for some — we collectively push our thoughts to those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

There will be fitting ceremonies to mark the day. Bugles will blow, flags will be raised and salutes presented. Then the day will be over.

Yet, even as the last chords of the bugle fade on Veterans Day, we all should remember throughout the year the great sacrifices made by those who served for our nation. We cannot mark Veterans Day without at least considering and trying to understand the cost war delivers for those who serve, from urban households to rural homesteads. And we cannot ignore the bravery and gallantry of the men and women who fought for our nation on some foreign shore.

These great men and women, whom we justly celebrate on Nov. 11, joined to serve for a variety of reasons, including lofty ideals that resonate from the dusty chambers where our founders pounded out the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.

These men and women we praise today continue to etch a legacy of what America is supposed to stand for. These warriors in the uniforms of our armed forces created a vast inheritance for the rest of us to enjoy and live up to.

One day, perhaps, war will not exist. We sure hope so. Until that time, though, there will be the need to preserve freedom in places across the globe and there will be a cost and a risk to sustaining democracy. We cannot shrink from that obligation.

So, on Veterans Day, we should remember, if only for a moment, the sacrifice made by so many for so long so that many of us can enjoy the very freedoms we count on and expect. We must acknowledge there is no way we can repay those who, in the words of President Abraham Lincoln, “gave the last full measure of devotion” to this republic, and we must acknowledge the great many who served and came home different from when they left their families and friends, and those bound to that end.

The only feasible method for appreciation is, on this day, to remember, if only for a moment, those who work to defend our freedom. Their sacrifice, their blood and sweat and even lives are woven into the blanket of democracy that covers these United States.

Our debt to them will forever remain unpaid.

And we must not forget them.

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