Eighth Air Force commander sends Veterans Day message

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- Mighty Eighth,

On Veterans Day, may we all take pause from our busy lives to recognize veterans from all branches of service who have sacrificed, both in war and in peace, to protect America and the American way of life. Here at the Mighty Eighth, we are approaching our 70th Anniversary as a Numbered Air Force and have the distinctive legacy of being the NAF that had the largest number of personnel, aircraft and equipment deployed during World War II. As we carry this proud heritage forward into the 21st Century, our shared service and sacrifice today helps to honor the brave men and women who have served this great nation before us.

Armistice Day, as this commemoration was first proclaimed, recognized the day the ceasefire was signed during World War I, putting an end to hostilities on November 11, 1918, at 11:00 a.m., on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Following World War II and the Korean War, Congress replaced the word "Armistice" with "Veterans" in 1954 to honor all American veterans.

This Veterans Day, we are still a nation at war. October 7, 2011 marked the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. Today, we honor the unwavering courage of the men and women who have served in our Armed Forces, including those in the ongoing efforts of securing our nation and in their continuing fight against terrorism

Over the course of the last year alone, our Airmen have remained focused on our missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, and in the fight against al Qaeda and its affiliate networks around the world. Airmen are justifiably proud to be part of the joint team that finally brought Osama bin Laden to justice this year. At the same time, they have maintained constant vigilance defending America through our continuous air sovereignty, space, cyber, and nuclear deterrence missions.

Today, as the members of the Mighty Eighth wind down from successful completion of Global Strike Challenge, may the spirit of competition and esprit de corps that we have shared over the past weeks and months continue to invigorate us as we reach the home stretch of 2011. Just like the legendary Airmen of the Mighty Eighth before us, our mission requires exacting focus, attention to detail and adherence to the highest standards. I know our dual-role nuclear and conventional mission is difficult and demanding. That's why I'm continually impressed and amazed with the men and women of Eighth Air Force. You are always seeking better ways to perform and improve at our mission of strategic deterrence and global combat power. Our mission is the backbone of our nation's defense that has protected America and our Allies around-the-clock for more than five decades, and I'm thankful for the opportunity to serve along side of you in support of this critical mission.

On Veterans Day, may we also remember that although it's easy to recognize our veterans as active-duty servicemembers, the majority of veterans we honor today no longer wear a military uniform. Many have gone on to become our teachers, police officers, firemen and neighbors. Whether they wear the military uniform today, or wore it decades ago, our veterans represent an unwavering dedication and exemplify the highest ideals of service to our nation. Our men and women in uniform have been, and are, our most powerful line of defense. The true strength of our military is not comprised of equipment or weapons systems, but the spirit and skill of the men and women who have worn the service uniforms of our nation. Have a safe and enjoyable Veterans Day holiday and thank you for your selfless service and sacrifice to our country and to our United States Air Force.