Diamond: Celebrate our veterans!

State Senator Bill Diamond

By Senator Bill Diamond for the Bridgton News

This coming weekend, we will celebrate Veterans Day.

The holiday was originally established to celebrate the end of World War I, and it was called “Armistice Day.” The U.S. president at the time, Woodrow Wilson, proclaimed the holiday as a day to celebrate victory, peace and freedom, saying “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, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”

This is as true a sentiment now as it was then.

Armistice Day was proclaimed a national holiday in 1938, and, after it became clear the World War I was not the “war to end all wars” that it was hoped it would be, the holiday became known as Veterans Day in the 1950s. President Eisenhower proclaimed that the renamed new holiday would be in honor of all the veterans of all our wars.

One of those rights that veterans fought for was our right to vote, and I was very gratified that so many of you turned out to exercise that right this week. As I have said in the past, this is one thing that makes America great, and I can think of no better tribute to our veterans than exercising this opportunity to help determine our future.

Our veterans have sacrificed a great deal to help us keep our freedom, and one of the best things we have done in the Maine Legislature is to show our gratitude for this sacrifice by enacting laws to help make life easier for them. We have a great many state and federal programs to help veterans, and sadly, many veterans are unaware of them, and suffer because of this. For a complete list of state and federal benefits for veterans, please look at the website www.maine.gov/dvem/bvs/benefits.htm, and make sure to pass this link on to any friends or relatives who are veterans.

I’d like to encourage you to take a moment on Sunday to think of one of those friends or relatives, and what it meant for them to serve. Think of the time they spent far away from home and family, often in danger and remember the debt we owe them.

Senator Bill Diamond is a resident of Windham, and serves the District 12 communities of Casco, Frye Island, Raymond, Standish, Windham and Hollis.

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