Who we celebrate on Veterans Day

Friday, November 7, 2014

On Nov. 11, our country will honor its veterans as it does every year, with parades, ceremonies, speeches and patriotic music. Schools will welcome military veterans into their classrooms and ask them to tell their stories, and everywhere they go young and old alike will clasp their hands and say, "Thank you for serving."

We are blessed to live in a grateful nation.We also live in an incredibly diverse nation. Our veteran population -- just over 23 million and counting -- reflects that. As Americans seek out those in their communities who wore the uniform to recognize them this Veterans Day, they'll find that women and minorities are serving in the military in greater numbers than ever before.

According to the National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics, about 2,600,000 living U.S. veterans -- 11 percent -- are black. Another 1,824,000 -- 8 percent -- are women. Smaller percentages include Hispanics (5.8 percent), Asian/Pacific Islanders (1.5 percent) American Indian/Alaska natives (0.8 percent) and "other" (1.3 percent). These numbers are always changing, but together, they're about 30 percent of America's veterans, or about 6,700,000. We're no longer Sgt. Rock's army.

If you honorably served our country during wartime, you have a home in the American Legion, the nations largest veterans service organization; an organization that cherishes a camaraderie rarely found elsewhere in society -- a camaraderie that is colorblind and genderblind and bound together by sacrifice and call to duty.

On this Veterans Day, let us thank God for the gift of freedom made possible by those who served our nation with honor, courage and commitment in our armed forces during all wars that enabled so many of them to earn that coveted title of an "American veteran."