By Airman 1st Class Jonathan Whitely | 50th Space Wing Public Affairs
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, an armistice was signed, marking the end of World War I. The day later was recognized as a holiday, which would eventually become Veterans Day.
James Mesco, 50th Space Wing historian, is a retired Air Force master sergeant whose father served in World War II and was part of the invasion on the beaches of Normandy June 6, 1944.
“Serving is more than putting a uniform on,” he said. “Service is about putting others before yourself, it’s about keeping our way of life preserved and protecting our future generations.”
Although a beacon of hope globally, the United States is still targeted by adversaries across the world. Despite the horrors associated with war, men and women have answered their nation’s call and responded bravely to tragic events. The bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Dec. 7, 1941 that killed more than 2,400 Americans and the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks that killed more than 2,900 innocent people among them.
“Every job, whether a cook, cop, admin clerk or pilot — every single person serving is supporting the mission and creating a stronger and more capable military,” he said. “[Every service member] has a requirement to be ready to go wherever and whenever the military deems necessary. Everyone — enlisted, officers and civilians, contribute to the overall mission.”
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, there are currently 19.6 million veterans in the United States.
“Veterans provide a much needed voice to our leaders,” he said. “When you have people who’ve seen how horrific and terrible things could get, they’re able to provide priceless counsel to leaders.”
Originally recognized as Armistice Day May 13, 1938, President Dwight Eisenhower renamed Armistice Day to Veterans Day June 1, 1954. Veterans Day became a day to recognize everyone who has served in the military.
“Remember all who have served and the sacrifices they have made,” he said. “A lot of those serving have made the sacrifices for our country.”
Senior Airman Denis Rodriguez Escobar, 50th Comptroller Squadron financial operations technician and immigrant, said he is thankful for the opportunities the United States provides.
“The United States has done so much for me and my family,” he said. “Serving goes far beyond wearing a uniform. To me, it’s all about giving back to the country that’s already given so much to me.”
The Air Force history of excellence dates back to its establishment in 1947. Since then, it’s Airmen have crafted a tradition of honor and a legacy of valor by serving honorably and selflessly.
“It’s important to uphold military standards and remember those who sacrificed so much before us,” Rodriguez said. “It’s our duty as a uniform wearer to continue this successful legacy for future generations.”
Every day, young men and women raise their right hand and swear an oath to uphold and protect the constitution of the United States of America, yet they make up the less than one percent of Americans who serve to protect our way of life.
“If you see a veteran, thank [him or her],” Mesco said. “The sacrifices they made are so people like us can live free.”