White House: BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Since the birth of our Nation, American patriots have stepped forward to serve our country and defend our way of life. With honor and distinction, generations of servicemen and women have taken up arms to win our independence, preserve our Union, and secure our freedom. From the Minutemen to our Post-9/11 Generation, these heroes have put their lives on the line so that we might live in a world that is safer, freer, and more just, and we owe them a profound debt of gratitude. On Veterans Day, we salute the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen who have rendered the highest service any American can offer, and we rededicate ourselves to fulfilling our commitment to all those who serve in our name.
Today, we are reminded of our solemn obligation: to serve our veterans as well as they have served us. As we continue our responsible drawdown from the war in Afghanistan and more members of our military return to civilian life, we must support their transition and make sure they have access to the resources and benefits they have earned. My Administration is working to end the tragedy of homelessness among our veterans, and we are committed to providing them with quality health care, access to education, and the tools they need to find a rewarding career. As a Nation, we must ensure that every veteran has the chance to share in the opportunity he or she has helped to defend. Those who have served in our Armed Forces have the experience, skills, and dedication necessary to achieve success as members of our civilian workforce, and it is critical that we harness their talent.
Across our country, veterans who fought to protect our democracy around the globe are strengthening it here at home. Once leaders in the Armed Forces, they are now pioneers of industry and pillars of their communities. Their character reflects our enduring American spirit, and in their example, we find inspiration and strength. This day, and every day, we pay tribute to America’s sons and daughters who have answered our country’s call. We recognize the sacrifice of those who have been part of the finest fighting force the world has ever known and the loved ones who stand beside them. We will never forget the heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice and all those who have not yet returned home. As a grateful Nation, let us show our appreciation by honoring all our veterans and working to ensure the promise of America is within the reach of all who have protected it.
With respect for and in recognition of the contributions our service members have made to the cause of peace and freedom around the world, the Congress has provided (5 U.S.C. 6103(a)) that November 11 of each year shall be set aside as a legal public holiday to honor our Nation’s veterans. NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim November 11, 2014, as Veterans Day. I encourage all Americans to recognize the valor and sacrifice of our veterans through appropriate public ceremonies and private prayers. I call upon Federal, State, and local officials to display the flag of the United States and to participate in patriotic activities in their communities. I call on all Americans, including civic and fraternal organizations, places of worship, schools, and communities to support this day with commemorative expressions and programs. IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this seventh day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.
My deepest appreciation to all of our TOD veterans (and the veterans in our individual families) … in advance of Veterans Day ~ at “the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month” ~ and always!
A faded photograph
A comrade’s name and address
In the bottom of an old shoebox
Wondering if the uniform would still fit
And where the medals are.
Remembering how you missed
The home-cooked meals
And Sunday night dinner at Mother’s
And now you find yourself
Missing them again.
Remembering there was no escaping
Until your “hitch” was up
The sights and sounds
Your uncertainty you would prevail
Memories that burn in the night.
You are now a Veteran
Duty has become honor
You kept your country free
You kept so many free.
And every time you see the flag
You see it through misted eyes
It hits you every time
It’s part of your story
Forever, a Veteran.
Even at a ripe 45, I have some of the sense of invulnerability that I had at 25. There is no good reason for me to be so confident; I have the physicals and admonitions from my doctor to prove so. But, I guess it’s better than being like some people, who treat every errant mole as a sign of the Grim Reaper’s impending visit.
However, everything ends. The one surety in life is that your time on Earth is short an precious. Would we appreciate life if we somehow discovered the fountain of youth? I don’t know. But the short lives we have now make every moment unique, of a singular nature, whether in joy or sorrow.
As life is short, something which always informs my decisions is the question: Am I making the world a better place. I’m not talking about great, macro-historical acts. I’m talking about the little things, the everyday kindnesses, the quotidian miracles which will not make it to the history books, but which may change a person’s life in innumerable ways for the better.
It’s a question by which I try to live. But it’s also a question which too few of our fellow citizens ask.
First Lady Michelle Obama hugs a child during a Drink Up event on the South Lawn of the White House, July 22, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)
President Barack Obama talks with a little girl at the Charcoal Pit restaurant in Wilmington, Del., July 17, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama holds the baby daughter of former staff members Darienne Page Rakestraw and London Rakestraw in the Ground Floor Corridor of the White House, July 1, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama greets a young girl after he delivered remarks on the economy at Cheesman Park in Denver, Colo., July 9, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama talks with a young girl as he and the First Lady greeted military personnel and their families during the Fourth of July celebration on the South Lawn of the White House, July 4, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
New behind-the-scenes photos from July, now posted on Flickr: bit.ly/1nNCmAs
President Barack Obama talks with three-year-old Holden Fossum and his sisters Ayla, 8, and Alexandria, 4, during a greet with wounded warriors and their families in the East Room of the White House, July 14, 2014. Holden, Ayla, and Alexandria are the children of Staff Sergeant Brendan Fossum and wife Dana of Woodbine, Md. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama greets a young boy on the street in Denver, Colo., July 8, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama greets Make-A-Wish recipient Mariah Rivera, age 10, and her family in the Oval Office, July 29, 2014. Rivera brought the President a birthday card she made for him. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama greets Emmitt and Pat Smith and family, and Team 22 on the Rose Garden steps of the White House, July 29, 2104. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama greets the family of departing staff member Archana Snyder, Council of Economic Advisers, in the Outer Oval Office, July 3, 2014.