General Wilsbach shares Veterans Day message

  • Published
  • By Brig. Gen. Ken Wilsbach
  • 18th Wing Commander
Team Kadena, as we celebrate this Veterans Day, I am reminded why I am so proud to be called a veteran. Talking with Airmen around the wing, and seeing all that you accomplish every day, is a testament to the heritage and legacy you are building for America's future generations.

Veterans Day began as a celebration of peace. During WWI, our nation and our allies fought what was called "the war to end all wars." In 1918, on "the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month" the most brutal war the world had seen up to that time came to an end. As a reminder, Great Britain and France commemorated the end of the war as Armistice Day.

President Woodrow Wilson later proclaimed that "Armistice Day" would be an annual celebration in the United States by stating "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with lots of pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations."

From then until the 1950s, our nation would engage in two more conflicts -- WWII and the Korean War. American men and women answered our nation's call and many made the ultimate sacrifice. Because of these conflicts, many Americans recommended that the men and women who had served our nation during those periods deserved recognition for their service too. As a result, in 1953, President Dwight Eisenhower renamed the November holiday "Veterans Day," to salute all veterans who have served during our nation's conflicts. More Americans would be called to serve as our nation engaged in conflicts in Vietnam, and in the Persian Gulf.

This Veterans Day, we honor all those who have served and who are serving -- Americans who understand service and who know that freedom is not free. In fact, of the nearly 25 million living veterans, most (75 percent) served during a war or an official period of hostility.

Today, Kadena's Airmen and our sister service members continue this proud heritage. While we are not at war in the Pacific, we are preserving peace and stability in the region. Today, we also have more than 500 Kadena Airmen deployed to other parts of the world to fight an enemy that is focused on killing innocents and Americans. Those serving today understand the cost of security and prosperity.

Just as important are the sacrifices your families make every day. A high operations tempo, multiple deployments and living in unfamiliar surroundings far from home require strength and commitment. Cindy and I thank you and your family for all you do for our Air Force and our Nation.

I am proud of the work you do and proud of the legacy left by those veterans who came before us. Thank you for all you do as we continue to Aim High ... Fly, Fight and Win!