WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), ranking member of the Senate Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations, Finance and Environment & Public Works committees, made the following remarks in advance of Veterans Day 2019.
“I honor the service and sacrifices of our veterans and their families every day. As we approach this day, the 101st Veterans Day, I pay a special tribute to the men and women who have worn a uniform in defense of our great nation, its people and our values.
“Progress usually is a good thing, but sometimes it comes with frightful consequences. The industrial revolution brought the development of weapons and tactics that enabled humankind to wage war and carnage upon itself at a level never before seen. By the end of World War I, there were approximately 40 million military and civilian casualties. H.G. Wells predicted it would be “the war to end war.” Tragically, that was not the case.
“The U.S. played an instrumental role in ending World War I, then known as the ‘Great War.’ On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, Germany signed an armistice with the Allies in a railroad car outside Compiegne, France. One hundred years ago, on November 11, 1919 – exactly one year after the signing of the armistice with Germany – President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first ‘Armistice Day’ to commemorate the day. On that occasion, he stated, ‘To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory.’
“Maryland played a critical role in ending that conflict with victory. Prominent military installations such as Fort Meade and Aberdeen Proving Grounds rapidly trained and deployed troops to Europe, and about 2,000 Maryland service members made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our freedom and ideals.
“Congress passed legislation to establish Armistice Day as a legal holiday in 1938, ‘dedicated to the cause of world peace.’
“The advent of World War II brought new challenges to America. Just as before, countless brave men and women stepped forward to do their part in service of their country. And just as before, Marylanders stepped forward arm-in-arm with their fellow citizens. The mighty Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyard in Baltimore produced hundreds of ships at dizzying speed to fight a war across a great ocean. “Just a few miles from there, Glenn L. Martin Company’s Aircraft produced A-22 Maryland bombers among other critically important aircraft in the battle for air superiority.
“Marylanders heroically fought on battlefields across the European and Pacific theatres. In all, 6,454 Marylanders lost their lives in World War II. Their names are memorialized in the granite of the Maryland World War II Monument in Annapolis.
“In 1954, after the Korean War, veterans service organizations urged Congress to amend the 1938 Act by striking out the word ‘Armistice’ and inserting the word ‘Veterans.’ With the approval of this legislation on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to thank and honor all American veterans who have served in wartime and peacetime.
“Successive conflicts and a rapidly modernizing world have brought their own unique national security challenges, but Americans’ bravery and willingness to serve has never wavered. Our nation’s security has always depended on the men and women of our military, and for their service, we are eternally indebted.
“Maryland continues to play a strategic role in our nation’s security infrastructure. The Old Line State is home to 11 military installations. Among the facilities are Joint Base Andrews, which is home to the president’s two Boeing VC-25 airplanes, which have the call sign ‘Air Force One’ while the Commander-in-Chief is on board, and the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, which has been training midshipmen since 1845.
“We honor all those men and women who have endeavored to protect our country and preserve our democracy so that Americans may live free from tyranny. Maryland is fortunate to be home to about 371,000 military veterans. These servant-leaders live amongst us as schoolteachers, small business owners, homemakers, public servants – and most every other profession – and they continue to give back to our communities.
“Let us all honor our veterans on this solemn day, and every day, by upholding the values they fought so gallantly to defend and by providing them with the benefits they earned through blood, sweat, courage and perseverance.
“On this Veterans Day, I join all Americans in thanking our veterans for their service, their sacrifice, and for being role models for future generations of Americans who will pick up the mantle of defending our great country.”