Veterans Day comes only once a year, though it deserves more weight than it receives, given the value of the services that our veterans provide. It is a day to reflect on those who chose to serve their country. The reason why they served varies but that they served does not. Their service can embody many characteristics but common to all are sacrifice, purpose and a sense of obligation to others. President George H.W. Bush, a veteran himself, once said “There could be no definition of a successful life that does not include service to others.”

Veterans Day dates back to World War I, also known as “The Great War” or “the war to end all wars.” It was originally called Armistice Day after the Allied nations and Germany declared an armistice (or ceasefire) on November 11, 1918. Though not the official end of World War I, Armistice Day became celebrated as such across the world. In the United States, President Woodrow Wilson declared November 11, 1919, the first celebration of Armistice Day in honor of the ceasefire that took effect at the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.” In 1938, Armistice Day became a federal holiday.

Unfortunately, World War I did not end up being “the war to end all wars.” Throughout both World War II and the Korean War, November 11 was still commemorated as Armistice Day, technically only honoring veterans of World War I and none of those who served since. In 1954, after being petitioned by veteran’s groups and service organizations, Congress officially changed the name of the holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day, honoring American veterans of all wars, past and future.

Today is a day to reflect upon the sacrifices servicemembers have made to defend this nation and our freedoms. Today is a day we salute out veterans and express our gratitude, not just for the sacrifices they made in service to our country, but for the example they set for living a successful life.

Sacrifice becomes a part of life for those who choose to serve their country. They leave behind families and friends when they deploy. They miss birthdays and anniversaries. They lose friends. They work hard every day so that our lives can continue as “normal.” To each of you, thank you for your service.

Since 1879, Navy Mutual has provided affordable life insurance products to those who have served in uniform. As the nation’s oldest federally recognized Veterans Service Organization, it has always been our honor to serve those who have answered our nation’s call, and it remains one today.

Thank you for the privilege of serving you.