Honoring sacrifice and courage on Veterans Day

MN State Senator Chuck Wiger, District 43

“This will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave,”

— Elmer Davis


This quote from dedicated WWII-era journalist Elmer Davis goes to the heart of why freedom — and those willing to fight for it — are so important.

 America was built on the concept of freedom. That spirit continues to inspire us all. At a time of deep division in this country, the spirit of freedom is one of the few things that brings us together.

 Veterans Day and the days surrounding it present a good opportunity to think about what it means to be an American. Millions of men and women have served and sacrificed for our country. November 11 is a time to be grateful for that service.


Here are a few Veterans Day facts:

• Veterans Day started as Armistice Day on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War 1.

• An annual observance of Armistice Day was passed by Congress in 1926.

• Armistice Day became a national holiday in 1938.

• President Eisenhower changed the name of Armistice Day to Veterans Day in 1954.

• There are 18.5 million veterans in the United States, according to the most recent statistics available.

• There are 1.6 million female veterans.

• There are 9.2 million veterans over the age of 65.


Sometimes we can forget the daily sacrifices being made by our military personnel and their families. Brave Americans put their lives on the line every day to keep our country safe. That cannot go unrecognized.

 Communities across America celebrate Veterans Day with parades, ceremonies, acts of goodwill and stories about what it means to fight for America.  I encourage everyone to show your gratitude to every man and woman who has served in the military.  In honor of our veterans, please support our troops.

 One way you can show your appreciation is by visiting the North St. Paul Veteran’s Memorial Park. On Veteran’s Day, Saturday, Nov. 11, the VFW will host rifle volleys and taps in the Memorial Park beginning at 11 a.m.

 The North St. Paul Veteran’s Memorial Park demonstrates how a community can come together for a worthy cause. After several years of planning and fundraising, the park in 2014 was awarded $100,000 in state bonding for construction. 

The Memorial Park honors the region’s heroes and includes a beautiful public space to give tribute to veterans and their loved ones.  The project also includes engraved paver stones honoring all U.S. veterans who provided honorable military service.  It is a wonderful community asset. I am so grateful Rep. Leon Lillie and I could advocate for this project in the state Legislature.

 Many other Minnesota communities have paid tribute to our veterans by erecting parks and memorials. On Saturday, Nov. 11, at 2 p.m. the VFW in White Bear Lake plans to dedicate a veteran’s memorial at VFW Post 1782, 4496 Lake Ave. S. I have been invited to say a few words along with several other elected officials. The ceremony will include a performance by the American Heritage Pipes and Drums.

 Oakdale is another city that has created a beautiful and fitting tribute to veterans and their families. It is located in front of Oakdale City Hall at 1584 Hadley Ave. N. A short ceremony to honor veterans is planned there for Sunday, Nov. 12, at 1 p.m. Cookies and coffee will follow in city hall.

 I encourage everyone to seek out these places in the coming weeks and spend a few moments reflecting on veterans’ service to our country. 

 Along with giving thanks to our veterans, I would also like to say thank you to the many patriotic groups that offer assistance to our veterans and families. For example:

• Beyond the Yellow Ribbon: The Minnesota National Guard has pioneered a program in hopes of changing how soldiers are reintegrated back to their communities. Called “Beyond the Yellow Ribbon”, the program is named as a reminder that the support of soldiers cannot end when they return from deployment and the yellow ribbons are untied. Many of our area communities and businesses now participate in this program. Go to the Minnesota National Guard’s Beyond the Yellow Ribbon website for more information, www.minnesotanationalguard.org/btyr/.

• The Minnesota VFW, Minnesota American Legion and their respective auxiliaries encourage everyone to support veterans and the families of the troops. We are thankful for the family support centers that have been set up for each Guard and Reserves branch. You can find contact information at www.mn.gov/vfw/.

 As always, please contact me with questions or suggestions regarding any issue. I encourage you to visit me at the Capitol, or let me know if you’d like me to stop by your home or apartment.  I can be reached by email at sen.chuck.wiger@senate.mn and by phone at 651-296-6820.


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