Words of gratitude on Veterans Day
2012 American Legion Boys Nation. (Photo by Charlie Tucker)

Words of gratitude on Veterans Day

The profound impact The American Legion Boys Nation program has on its participants is oftentimes revealed in "thank you" letters sent to the program’s volunteer staff. And the letter Boys Nation Director Mike Buss from National Headquarters recently received spoke volumes on how the program is instilling in each young man a deep loyalty to America.

In honor of Veterans Day, Alex DiLalla, a 2012 Boys Nation senator from North Carolina, gathered personal messages of appreciation for veterans from many of his fellow senators. "All of the young men who attended Boys Nation this summer want to show you (Boys Nation staff) just how much we believe in the United States of America and the men and women who have served and continue to serve both at home and in harm’s way," DiLalla wrote in his letter. "My appreciation for you and other servicemembers is truly ineffable. You inspire me with your love of country.

"Thank you so much for all you have done and continue to do. We hope you will enjoy these thoughtful messages to commemorate this Veterans Day."

"Serving is one thing. What you as The American Legion did during your times of service is incredible. We cannot thank you enough for putting your lives at stake to protect the freedoms we hold so dearly. But, you have gone even farther. Not only does the Legion represent a group of men who served, it also represents a group that fights for veteran’s benefits. So with that, thank you for your service and your continued drive to ensure that our heroes are taken care of when they come back home." – Paul Drexler, Tennessee

"Ronald Reagan once said, ‘Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But, Marines don’t have that problem.’ I want to thank you men for everything you have done for me from the bottom of my heart. Not only was this past summer a time of learning and growing, but a time of discovering what path I would like to take in my life. I cannot thank you enough for both your service to our great nation and the influence you have played in my life. I wish you all the best on this day. Happy Veterans Day and Semper Fi!" – Jesse Martinez, New Mexico

"Thank you for the service that you have given (our) country and for the service that you continue to provide through The American Legion. You have not only protected but also educated, not only saved but also enriched, and we cannot thank you enough for this. We will always remember that freedom isn’t free and those who are willing to pay the price, the time away from their families, the endless dangers of the battleground, are true heroes. Thank you." – Dalton Schmit, Iowa

"It is through the efforts of teachers and mentors that we grow and learn. The dedication you have showed in continuing your service from the front lines and in wartime to instilling a passion for public service into the hearts and minds of young men and women will never be forgotten. Because of the experience we’ve had, we are now indebted to you for your military service and your mentorship. Your service and sacrifice will never be forgotten. God Bless America!" – Patrick Gill, Virginia

"There aren’t many places in the world where men and women I have never met will fight, with their lives, to grant me rights that not everyone else has. There aren’t many of those places where those same men and women don’t ask for anything in return. They just love this country and its people enough that they’re willing to fight for them. I can only give eternal gratitude to the veterans of this nation and, specifically, to The American Legion for their service, dedication and bravery. Each and every one of you is an inspiration to America. For Boys Nation this summer, to your service in the past and your future service in civic education, I thank you." – Tushar Madan, Texas

"There is no institution on this world that commands such unwavering respect as the United States military. And there are no greater men to serve as the pillars of that institution than you gentlemen. You have shaped the lives of myself and my peers through the wisdom, kindness and awe-inspiring dignity that forms the blood of this nation, and our week with you will forever cause us to give a silent moment of thanks for all the patriots that didn’t come home so we could have the honor of being your pupils for the week. Thank you so much." – Chris Johnson, Florida

"President Kennedy said once ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.’ There are few ways less noble to serve our country than through the military. The courage and strength that you all exude are qualities which deserve only our highest gratitude. I cannot thank you enough for what you have done, and what you continue to do for this country through the military and The American Legion. You have my best wishes as always. Thanks." – Jack Rametta, Rhode Island

"Adlai E. Stevenson said, ‘Patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.’ I agree wholeheartedly that it is the dedication of a lifetime that defines true patriotism. How then does this relate to you, Boys Nation leaders? Simple. You all have given not only your time, dedication and effort, but—most importantly—your very being to the protection and advancement of this great country. You work tirelessly for the rights of the veterans who serve our country, while conducting the nation’s finest civic training to instill young future leaders with the knowledge, understanding and wisdom to govern this country. When trying to put into words a thanks for all that you do, I am speechless. Words simply cannot express the gratitude I feel toward each and every one of you. You have shaped this country’s past, present and—most importantly—future. For this, an unspeakable amount of thanks and gratitude is shown. May we all hope to be driven by such a noble cause as your own. Thank you for everything and God bless you-all!" – Brandon Dale, Louisiana

"Not only have you protected our freedom to exist in a democratic society, but you have continued your service to the U.S. by sacrificing countless hours in your efforts to develop the leaders of tomorrow. Keep leaning forward in the foxhole!" – Cain Mathis, Kansas

"Thank you so much for protecting and defending our freedom and way of life. We are the greatest country in the world because we have the greatest people in the world defending us. Words cannot express the infinite gratitude every American has for you." – Chris Clifton, Delaware

"I am truly grateful for your service to our country. I cannot emphasize how brave a person must be to be in harm’s way or dedicate one’s life to protect people he has never met. I am not only proud, but also honored to live in a country where this type of courage exists. Thank you for defending this nation’s ideals as veterans, and for upholding this nation’s ideals as teachers." – Sylesh Volla, Minnesota

"Elmer Davis once said, ‘This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.’ Every veteran has made the ultimate commitment and has demonstrated the apex of patriotism and courage. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your bravery. Thank you for believing in the stars and stripes. And finally, thank you for your service to the United States of America." – Kevin Fulmer, Pennsylvania

"Thank you for your service! Because there is one thing we are all doing right now and we’ve chose to do because of the liberty you fought for. I am honored to thank the people that fought for our freedom and not only that they work every day to make this country a better one. Thank you, Legionnaires!" – Fermin Prieto, New Mexico

"Because of you brave, courageous gentlemen, we all possess the most precious gift: freedom. As we toured D.C. in July, we saw the phrase ‘Freedom is not Free’ etched on the wall of the Korean War Memorial. You all know that firsthand. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your service." – Ian Fleming, Illinois

"Thank you all for your many years of service. The sacrifices you have made for our country, on and off the battlefield, are unfathomable. You have fought for our country, veterans and flag. You have also inspired me, my Boys Nation brothers, and many like us to do the same. Words cannot express my thankfulness. I hope all is well with you." – Jacob Miller, Alaska

"Our country is what it is today because of the freedoms and visionary ideals established by our founding fathers. These principles have never been universally accepted in our world and often times come under fire from those who would wish to see them end. It is those who serve, day in and day out, that ensure the continuation of our values and civilization. Veterans fight not only on the front line but also on the home front to keep America strong. For all your hardship, sacrifice and most of all service, I thank you." – Tianshan Fullop, Oregon

"Our country is now and always will be a better place because of great men and women like you! It is because of selfless acts like yours that our freedom is still burning. Thank you for all your wonderful words of wisdom. May God continue to bless you, and I hope that you know that you’re always the best that this country has to offer." – Rex Ames, Mississippi

"Your service to our great nation inspires me. It pushes me each and every day to better my community, to perform my civic duties and to stand for the American values which you have fought so bravely for. Thank you. Thank you from the very bottom of my heart." – Henry Hawbaker, Nebraska

"America is eternally blessed for the presence of men like yourselves, who believe liberty is always worth fighting for. Men who believe in duty, honor and country will always be an inspiration, compelling me to strive to work for my nation, for our nation. Thank you so much for your service and for imparting upon me the patriotism so vital to being a citizen of the United States of America." – Storm Boris, Connecticut

"It’s a true honor and blessing to have such incredible protectors in our military. Your service makes the world a better place, keeps our nation a strong beacon of hope in freedom and democracy, and those around you inspired and forever in awe of all that you do and continue to do. Thank you." – Ben Horwitz, Arizona

"Just a thank you does not explain the gratitude that I have for each and every man and woman that has served this nation in the Armed Forces. Thank you for all that you have done. I cannot fathom the amount you all have sacrificed for our great nation and me. My prayers go out to you every day. Thank you for making me proud to be an American." – Zac Hall, Wyoming

"Thanks to all who put—and have put—on the uniform looking for nothing in return. The selfless act of serving our country deserves the highest level of respect and gratitude we have to offer. When I see a veteran in public, my frown or bad mood turns into a grin and happiness knowing that our country is safe because of these men and women. May peace always be with you." – Giovanni Moujaes, California

"Thank you gentlemen for a week that I will remember for the rest of my life. You have taught me so much more than about politics, but about life, myself and you allowed me to meet some of the brightest young men in this country. You all are certainly right—it is a week that will forever shape a lifetime." –Nicholis Ball, Virginia

"America is great because of gentlemen like you, who have not only served our country in the past but continue to believe in her today. Thank you for your courage on the field of battle. Thank you for passing on your wisdom and passion. You have inspired us to strive to protect the legacy of freedom and democracy you have bequeathed us." – Paul Loftness, Arkansas

"What is there to say other than thank you? It’s men like you that make all of us proud to be Americans. Boys State and Boys Nation forever changed my life for the better. Even now, I still occasionally sing the America chant. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you have done and continue to do." – John Flinn, North Carolina