Honoring the veterans

What we now observe as Veterans Day was born in 1919 as Armistice Day, a day to commemorate the veterans of World War I.

That war was labeled "The War to End All Wars." As we well know, the optimism behind that label was misplaced.

World War I was simply the precursor to another World War fewer than 30 years later, as well as the subsequent wars of the 20th, and now the 21st, century.

Only one known U.S. veteran of World War I survives, and he is 107 years old. The 2.5 million surviving veterans of World War II, all now in their 80s or older, are dying at a rate of more than 1,000 a day.

Let us honor the veterans of the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the first Gulf War. Let us also honor those who have fought -- and are fighting -- in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But let us commemorate especially the sacrifice of those who fought in World War II. Many of them were just boys at the time, but nonetheless participants in one of the greatest conflagrations the world has witnessed. These members of the "Greatest Generation" are dwindling, and we must show them our appreciation while we can.

That, however, should not overshadow the honoring of veterans of other wars. Despite changing political winds throughout the decades in which these conflicts have occurred, the American military remains a constant, unwavering force, whose members are there to do their duty when the nation calls.

Without them, we could not have sustained the way of life we hold dear. One day is not enough to repay the debt we owe them.

Today, let us honor all veterans, but especially those who served in World War II.