Veteran's Day Ceremony —November 11, 2018

Veterans Memorial Park, Muskegon, MI

Good morning. I am Bob Scolnik, a County Commissioner and a former Captain in the United States Army with four years of active duty and service in Korea and Vietnam. I’ve had some success in my life, but my most rewarding time and the time of which I am most proud are those years from 1967 to 1970 when I served our country.

First though, Thank You for being here today. I am deeply honored to stand with you, honoring all military veterans, persons who served in the United State Armed Forces. As I prepared my remarks for today, I read about the history behind today’s holiday, Veterans Day. Originally this day was called Armistice Day and it marked the anniversary of the end of World War 1, known then as the War to end all Wars.

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the actual day of the end of major hostilities of World War 1. This great war was formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 … exactly 100 years ago, when the Armistice with Germany went into effect. The U.S. Holiday was renamed Veterans Day in 1954.

We are here today to honor our heroes, to remember their achievements, their courage and their dedication, and to say thank you for their sacrifices. Thinking of the heroes who join us in this group today and those who are here in spirit only, a person can’t help but feel awed by the enormity of what we encounter, we stand amid patriots and the family and friends of those who have nobly served.

Thank you for answering the call to duty. You have made our armed forces the most respected in the world.

The service members we honor today came from all walks of life, but they shared several fundamental qualities. They possessed courage, pride, determination, selflessness, dedication to duty and integrity – all the qualities needed to serve a cause larger than one’s self.

Millions of Americans have fought and died on battlefields here and abroad to defend our freedoms and way of life. Today our troops continue to make the ultimate sacrifices, and even as we lose troops, more Americans step forward to say, I’m ready to serve. They follow in the generations of fine Americans.

I would like to take a moment and acknowledge any of those among us who have lost a loved one in the line of duty to this country. It doesn’t matter how much time has passed – no words of condolence can even begin to adequately console a survivor’s grief. Let me just say that I have the greatest respect and appreciation for their contributions and sacrifice, and we are proud to honor them today.

I would also like to acknowledge the price paid by the families of our service members. For many veterans, our nation was important enough to endure long separations from their families, miss the births of their children, freeze in sub-zero temperatures, bake in deserts and jungles, lose limbs, and, far too often, lose their lives.

Military spouses have had to endure career interruptions, separation from friends and, hardest of all, the uncertainty of whether Mom or Dad will live through their next combat tour.

And so, this holiday, originally called Armistice Day, was designated as a day to celebrate the end of World War 1. The law that created the original holiday was, and I quote, “dedicated to the cause of world peace…”. As time went on and we engaged in future conflicts: during World War 2 and Korea, it was clear that the holiday was needed to now honor veterans from every war and conflict the United States had encountered. We’ve honored our troops and their service and sacrifice ever since.

Today, people throughout the country will gather to remember, to honor, and to pay gratitude to those who have served our country. Our gathering is just one small spark in the flame of pride that burns across the nation today and every day. It’s not a lot, but it is one small way we can honor those who have made so many sacrifices so that we can live in freedom.

Your presence here today and that of people in similar gatherings across America is a tribute to those lost troops and to their Families. It is a way to say we remember. From the soldiers who froze and starved through the winter at Valley Forge to the doughboys of World War 1, crouched in their muddy trenches of France, to the platoon who patrolled the jungles of Vietnam and the young man or woman patrolling the mountains of Afghanistan, we remember and honor them all.

Thank you for attending today. God Bless you and your families. God Bless our troops and God Bless America!