On Veterans Day we express gratitude for the men and women who have stood as sentinels of freedom throughout our nation's history. While we do, it's crucial to reflect on the profound significance of the liberties they defended. Freedom is not merely a buzzword or a political slogan; it's the lifeblood of our nation and transcends the boundaries of time and politics. As political divisions intensify, now more than ever, we must recognize the enduring importance of freedom and the role veterans have played in preserving it.
Freedom requires collective responsibility. President Ronal Reagan famously said, "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free." As a society, we must foster an environment where the ideals of freedom are preserved for generations to come and its significance is taught to younger generations.
Freedom is not a guarantee. Once our freedoms are gone - whether willingly given up or having them taken - they're gone for good. As the saying goes, freedom isn't free. Veterans and their families carry the burden and cost associated with that freedom so most can move about their lives unbothered by the realities of what it takes to maintain the American way of life. It is the duty of every generation to heed the lessons of those who have gone before—to recognize that the freedoms we enjoy today are not guaranteed and must be actively preserved.
Freedom is at risk—every single day. Look at the world around us. WWIII is knocking at our door. Our southern border is wide open. Our national debt has skyrocketed. Throughout American history, veterans served because they recognized a greater, intrinsic value of the American way of life - not out of blind allegiance to a particular political administration or ideology. Veterans understand the freedoms and liberties we enjoy are our nation's bedrock. In the face of social discord and political vitriol, veterans see past politics temporary and divisive nature and hold on to the timeless significance of what they've sworn to protect.
Freedom matters. Wave the American flag. Learn the history and the sacrifices made by those who believed in the great American experiment. Take your hat off for the National anthem. Teach your children why the Red, White, and Blue is rare and unique. Support those who serve. Most of all, love freedom. Do not take it for granted. And if you're looking for a way to support veterans on Veterans Day, stand up for the freedoms that previous generations fought to defend and ensure they remain intact - it's the number one way to recognize veterans' sacrifices and help the flame of liberty shine bright.
Freedom unites us. In an era where political polarization threatens to erode the very foundations of our nation, veterans remind us that freedom is the common thread that binds us together. It's a connection that resonates across generations. Veterans embody the spirit of America, reminding us that our way of life is worth fighting for.
Veterans Day is when Americans can hopefully rise above the divisive rhetoric and recognize the millions of Americans who stepped up to the plate when it mattered most so we can all be free today. In doing so, we must remember that freedoms are not entitlements or a guarantee but rather a responsibility to protect for future generations. Let's honor veterans by cherishing the freedoms they fought to preserve.
For all of those Americans out there who continue to support freedom and for those who choose to protect it, thank you.
Amber Smith is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and former OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter pilot in the 101st Airborne Division. Air CAV!