Ninety-two years ago, the "guns of August" fell silent as the war that ravaged the European continent drew to a close with the signing of the Armistice aboard a railway car in Northern France on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
It was to be the war to end all wars, the war to make the world safe for democracy, and indeed the final defeat of that terrible tendency of mankind to resolve disputes at force of arms, a thread running through all recorded history.
It was not to be. Scarcely a generation later, Europe was again engulfed in war, and once again, America was drawn into the conflict - and helped secure, at great cost, its successful resolution.
The Armistice did not usher in an era of global tranquility because no war can fundamentally alter human nature. That is why, now as then, our freedom depends not on lofty ideals, but rather upon the men and women who wear the uniform, who stand ready to risk their lives to preserve the liberties we hold dear.
The brave men and women of our armed forces have kept the faith, and on Veterans Day above other days, they deserve our deepest expressions of gratitude - especially the 780,000 veterans who have made the Commonwealth their home.
Yesterday marked the 235th anniversary of the day that a committee of the Continental Congress met at Tun Tavern to draft a resolution calling for two battalions of Continental Marines, turning to the tavern's owner for the newly minted Marines' first captain. The Continental Army, formed some five months earlier, had already gone into action during the Siege of Boston, and in October of 1775, a fledgling Navy commenced operations with three armed schooners patrolling the Massachusetts Bay.
From these modest beginnings arose the most powerful military the world has ever seen. Our strength is not in arms and ordnance, but in those who serve and have served, those for whom this day was set aside as a day of thanks and remembrance.
Their valor does not require my words to find expression. It is engraved upon the pages of history. It is testified to, not by any words I may write, but by their lives as well as ours - lived in freedom purchased by their sacrifice.
In Great Britain more so than here in the United States, this day is inexorably linked with the moving poem "In Flanders Field," which concludes with a charge to the generations that follow:
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
To all those who have held high the torch of liberty, and to all those who will keep faith with them in years to come, we salute you, we honor you, and we thank you.
With best regards,
Mark D. Obenshain
Virginia State Senator