Since the armistice between the Allied nations led by the United States went into effect on Nov. 11, 1918, veterans across the country pause each year on the date that has been recognized as the end of the “war to end all wars.”
This year, American Legion National Vice Commander Patricia Harris and Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Director Katie Purswell attended a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery where they placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
“I thought of a quote by Steven Buyer,” Harris said, referring to the former congressman who represented Indiana. “He said, ‘Because all of us believe and understand in the fabric of the common bond of why we call ourselves American is to care for the men and women who wear the uniform; and when they take off the uniform, we care for them when they are veterans.’"
Today’s Legionnaires, Harris noted, embody the values laid out shortly after World War I by the founders of The American Legion in its preamble.
"As I observed the long line of wreaths in front and behind, I thought of every word of our preamble and just how much — as Legionnaires — we are to be about them. We don’t just recite the words. We are to be the ones people see walk those ideals."
Harris also attended a Veterans Day breakfast at the White House hosted by first lady Jill Biden.
“I looked around at all the veterans organizations in there and thought, ‘Here you are. Representing the largest veterans service organization in the nation at the White House.’”
Vice President Kamala Harris delivered the keynote address to the crowd that gathered in the Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery despite the heavy rain for the annual Veterans Day ceremony.
"Every day, through your life's work and your example, you make America stronger," she said. “On Veterans Day, we come together to express our profound gratitude for all you have done and you continue to do.
“To be a veteran is to have truly known the true cost of freedom, and to have borne it for all of us. That is a debt that must always be remembered.”
She also praised Jill Biden’s work with families of veterans.
“While our veterans wore the uniform, they're not the only ones who have served.”
The vice president also spoke of the characteristics embodied by those who serve in the armed forces.
“Unwavering courage, unmatched talent and unshakeable devotion. You come from every corner of our country, and out of many you become one — the greatest fighting force in the world,” said the vice president.
Supporting America’s veterans, families, caregivers and survivors is one of the Biden administration’s highest priorities. This includes initiatives such as signing the PACT Act addressing toxic exposures into law, a comprehensive public health strategy for reducing military and veteran suicide, striving to end veteran homelessness, supporting women veterans and removing barriers to services for LGBTQ+ veterans.
“You gave up so much to safeguard the lives and the liberty of people you may never meet,” the vice president said. “To be a veteran is to have truly known the true cost of freedom and to have borne it for all of us. That is a debt that must always be remembered, and I believe it is a debt we must all work to repay.”