Gov. Janet Mills
Sen. Angus King
Sen. Susan Collins
Rep. Jared Golden
Rep. Chellie Pingree
N.H. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen
N.H. Sen. Maggie Hassan
Bishop Robert Deeley
President Donald Trump
President-elect Joe Biden
On Veteran's Day, Maine and New Hampshire politicians and leaders are sharing messages of thanks to those who have served our country.
Chapter one: Gov. Janet Mills
Today I want to speak to the thousands of military veterans in our state and to the families of those who have served our country, in combat and in peacetime, keeping our country safe, keeping our democracy alive.
President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11th as Armistice Day in 1919, after the “war to end all wars.” He proclaimed: "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.”
Armistice Day became an official holiday in 1938, primarily dedicated to those who served during the First World War; but in 1954, after World War II and the Korean War, the word Armistice was replaced with the word Veterans, ensuring that all American Veterans who had served our great nation were honored for all time.
For those of us who come from military families and who have experienced the hardship of having a loved one serving our country far from home during a time of war or peace, Veterans Day is a source of solemn pride, endless gratitude, and deep reflection on the sacrifices they make to keep us all safe.
While we are not able to come together this year as we normally would – we are staying apart so that we may stay together — we can still honor the courageous men and women who faithfully served our state and nation in the Armed Forces. Nor will staying apart prevent us from expressing our deepest gratitude to those still serving every day to keep us all safe. Nor will it prevent us from sharing in the grief of families who have lost loved ones so recently to this deadly COVID-19 virus — including many honored veterans among the more than 238,000 Americans who have died from COVID 19. More than four times the number of American soldiers who perished during the entire Vietnam war have now died from this virus.
When I think of those who served their country, I think of the courage they showed in the toughest of times.
The odds we face today are great as well.
We know what to do.
We are not raising rifles and bayonets, dodging land mines or dropping bombs on an enemy whose face and flag we know.
We are not walking into battle in foreign fields and forests.
We are facing an enemy that is real but unseen, as sure a killer as any enemy we have ever fought in our national history.
We are fighting this foe as a nation and as a state, not with bullets, but with hygiene, not with soldiers huddled in bunkers but with social distancing, not with torpedoes but with face coverings.
These are our strange and novel armaments, our sure and only ammunition against this enemy. And we are all soldiers in this fight.
We arm ourselves this way to protect ourselves and, equally, to protect people whose names we do not know — the passersby, people we meet on the street; the folks who work in the corner restaurant, the store or the packing plant; the nurses, doctors and CNAs who care for the sick and put themselves at risk; the combat veteran who deserves to live the remainder of a heroic life with health and happiness, not to be felled by a painful contagion alone and separated from family and friends.
This Veterans Day wear your face covering with pride, in honor of every veteran. Keep them safe, as they have kept us safe.
To all Maine veterans — thank you for your service and your sacrifice. To all those who have served and to those who continue to serve our country well: our hearts are with you this Veterans Day, 2020.
Thank you. And keep the faith. Stay safe.
Chapter two: Sen. Angus King
After observing American troops defend Baltimore Harbor from the British Navy during the War of 1812, Francis Scott Key put pen to paper and created our national anthem. It is telling that he chose to write the last lines of the first stanza in the form of a question:
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
He did so, I believe, to illustrate that the United States can only be the land of the free if it is also the home of the brave. Without brave men and women committed to protecting our country, we cannot enjoy the many freedoms we hold dear. On this Veterans Day, may we commit ourselves to celebrating these men and women and honoring their service to our country.
Veterans Day this year also comes in the midst of a pandemic. So as we reflect, with gratitude and remembrance, on the sacrifices of American servicemembers and their families, we must also endeavor to provide the care and services they are afforded. Here in Maine, as the days get shorter and colder, we must work harder than ever to care for our neighbors and friends across the state. If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health issues, unemployment, or lack of access to health care please know that there is an entire community of Maine people here to support you. Do not hesitate to reach out—whether it be to my office, the VA, a fellow veteran, or a family member.
For my part, I will continue to push for expanded telehealth services at the VA and to ensure that the VA Maine Healthcare System has the testing kits and PPE necessary to manage the coronavirus and safely expand its in-person capabilities. During this unprecedented time, I am also deeply thankful for the dedicated service of veterans' advocates, Veterans Service Organizations, and VA Maine employees who have not faltered in their work on behalf of Maine veterans.
More than two hundred years after Francis Scott Key wrote "The Star-Spangled Banner," the question he poses still rings true. Let us join together on this Veterans Day to give thanks to the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen who have bravely served so we may be free."
Chapter three: Sen. Susan Collins
As the daughter of a World War II veteran who was wounded twice in the Battle of the Bulge where he earned two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star, Veterans Day has always had a special meaning to me.
The men and women we honor on Veterans Day have paid the price of our freedom in times of conflict, and they are our shield in times of peace. We honor those who paid the ultimate price. We honor those who lived beyond their years of military service but who have since passed on. And we honor those who are with us today.
Today, nearly 20 million Americans wear the proud title of 'Veteran.' Maine is home to more than 114,000 veterans, the second-highest percentage in our entire country. We are proud of our State's commitment to protecting our nation.
The patriots we honor on Veterans Day served our nation and all of humanity. Those who serve today carry on this great mission. They have earned our deepest thanks, not just on this Veterans Day, but for all the days to come.
Chapter four: Rep. Jared Golden
Thank you to all my fellow veterans for your service to this nation. It's been an honor to follow in your footsteps or to serve alongside you, and I am proud of those who have followed in the years since I completed my service.
I give special thanks today to those who have suffered long-lasting wounds during their service. Your sacrifices will not be forgotten.
Chapter five: Rep. Chellie Pingree
Our state has a proud history of high rates of military service. One out of every ten Mainers are veterans — one of the highest numbers of veterans per capita of any state in the nation.
One of the most meaningful parts of my job is when I get to present military service medals to veterans who didn’t receive their medals when they left service. In July, my office reunited Sergeant Donald Roy with his Bronze Star Medal. Mr. Roy was mailed a medal and certificate for his service in the Korean War, but the package in arrived damaged and the medal had slipped out. Though he always had the pride of his service, no matter the physical medal, it was a true honor to present him with his well-deserved and overdue medal.
As a member of Congress, it is a top priority to support Maine’s veterans. I recently signed on to legislation to establish a “Buddy Check” week, modeled after the American Legion’s Buddy Check National Week of Calling. H.R. 2898 would direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to support the American Legion’s Buddy Week project to make sure isolated veterans feel connected to their community. I also was a cosponsor of legislation to designate 988 as the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, which was recently signed into law.
I’m proud to represent a state that has continued the legacy of selfless service to our country. If you are a veteran, I want to thank you for your sacrifices for our freedoms. Happy Veterans Day.
Chapter six: N.H. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen
On Veterans Day, we honor and reflect on the tremendous service and sacrifice of the men and women who have served our nation in uniform. New Hampshire has a strong tradition of military service, and I join all Granite Staters in expressing my deepest gratitude to all who have answered the call of duty, especially our service members currently stationed overseas.
This year, we celebrate our veterans at the end of a bitter election season – a time that too often serves to divide our nation rather than bring us together in common purpose. But we must remember that each vote cast was a reminder that we live in a free and democratic society because so many have volunteered to defend that government of the people, by the people, for the people. It is our duty and promise to our veterans that we never forget their service nor lose sight of the freedoms they fought to secure.
I have sought in the Senate to honor that service by working to ensure that our veterans have access to the health care and the benefits they need, and will always have their well-being at heart in pursuing policies that lift our veteran community up. They have never failed us in service to our nation, and we must not fail them when they return home.
Chapter seven: N.H. Sen. Maggie Hassan
This Veterans Day, I encourage everyone to share their gratitude for the awe-inspiring sacrifice that veterans have made to ensure that our nation can be safe, secure, and free. In these politically contentious times, it's important to remember that our nation's veterans answered the call to serve their fellow citizens without regard to walk of life or political party. They stood guard, fought, and sacrificed simply because – and always because – we are Americans. And because freedom, liberty, and justice are worth fighting for. Their example of unity and love of country should inspire all of us to work to heal our divides.
This Veterans Day, and every day, it is essential to reflect on and recommit to the values that veterans have fought for. In doing so, we can help ensure that our country is ever-worthy of their service.
Chapter eight: Bishop Robert Deeley
On this Veterans Day, we remember gratefully the many who have served our country and defended the freedoms we enjoy, including, of course, the right to vote in free elections. Their unparalleled dedication to duty so that we might live in peace is the foundation of America. Today, we particularly remember the women and men who have paid the supreme sacrifice dying in service to our country. We entrust them to the Lord of life. There is no better way to honor our veterans and their families than by living our own lives with a dedicated concern for one another and our communities. Join me as well in praying for those who actively serve us in the military. May our loving God watch over them and care for them as they protect our country, our families, and our way of life.
Chapter nine: President Donald Trump
America’s veterans have fought to defend our country, its values, and its interests since the first days of our founding. They have defeated tyrants, eliminated terrorists, and secured freedom at home and abroad. Their courage and fortitude in the face of adversity serve as an example for all Americans. On Veterans Day, we pause to pay tribute to all who have proudly worn our Nation’s uniform. These Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen selflessly placed lives, well‑being, and security of others before their own. We enjoy the privileges of peace, prosperity, and freedom because of our veterans, and we are forever indebted to them beyond measure.
For their love of country and dedication to duty, America’s veterans have endured adversity, loneliness, fatigue, loss, and made other incredible sacrifices. Many sustained life-altering physical injuries and disabilities; others bear the burden of emotional scars for the remainder of their lives. Our Nation’s veterans fully understand liberty’s high and precious cost, for they have paid it every day since the formation of our Republic.
As Commander in Chief, I have relentlessly fought to support America’s veterans. For far too long, our Government had not fully met its obligation to provide for “him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan.” I recognize that this country and its people are duty-bound to care for our exceptional veterans, their families, and their survivors. That is why, throughout my time in office, I have worked tirelessly to improve the health, welfare, and economic prosperity of these treasured people. In just a few short years, my Administration completely overhauled the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), removing employees who were not giving our veterans the care and attention they deserve and making the agency more accountable to the heroes it serves. I also signed into law the VA MISSION Act, which gives eligible veterans the choice to receive timely care from providers in their own communities. In 2018, I also signed the largest funding bill in the history of the VA, and the VA has since benefited from record budgets every year. In addition, I signed a Presidential Memorandum to ensure that veterans who are totally and permanently disabled receive the Federal student loan forgiveness to which they are so justly entitled. We will continue to build on these efforts and work to create an economic environment that fosters growth and prosperity for veterans, ensuring all of our veterans have the opportunity to live productive civilian lives.
The mental health and welfare of our veterans is of critical importance, and addressing this issue has been a top priority. Tragically, an average of 20 veterans and service members die by suicide each day. We are striving with all our effort to end this alarming and unacceptable reality. Last year, I launched the largest whole-of-government program in history to end veteran suicide, the President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide (PREVENTS). I also recently signed the Commander John Scott Hannon Veteran Mental Health Care Improvement Act which is strengthening VA mental health, supporting suicide prevention efforts, and developing pilot programs dedicated to ending veteran suicide. I have also bolstered the Veterans Crisis Line, so that its around-the-clock operators can deliver the best possible intervention services to vulnerable veterans.
Our veterans represent the best of America, and they deserve the best America can provide them. To recognize and respect the contributions our service men and women have made in defense of America, and to advance the cause of peace, the Congress has provided, as outlined in 5 U.S.C. 6103(a), that November 11th of each year shall be set aside as a legal public holiday to recognize America’s veterans. These heroes served faithfully, humbly, and valiantly in times of war and peace, and they carried these admirable traits into the civilian workforce when their military service was fulfilled. Our precious liberty has survived and thrived because of generations of brave Americans — from every background and walk of life — who have answered the call to support and defend the United States. The gravity of their contribution is immeasurable and so is our debt to every single one of our Nation’s veterans.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim November 11, 2020, as Veterans Day. I encourage all Americans to recognize the fortitude and sacrifice of our veterans through public ceremonies and private thoughts and prayers. I call upon Federal, State, and local officials to display the flag of the United States and to participate in patriotic activities in their communities. I call on all Americans, including civic and fraternal organizations, places of worship, schools, and communities to support this day with commemorative expressions and programs.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this tenth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-fifth.
Chapter ten: President-elect Joe Biden
Today, we as a nation pause to honor the service, the valor, and the commitment of all those who have worn the uniform of the Armed Forces of the United States. They stand as part of a proud chain of warrior patriots reaching back to the earliest days of our republic, each one taking up the sacred mission to defend our nation’s highest values, our liberty, and democracy. The women and men who have fought and sacrificed for our country are heroes, and the rest of us owe them an unpayable debt. They have earned our thanks and, above all, our respect.
For many years, I have said that we as a nation have many obligations, but we have only one truly sacred obligation: to prepare and equip our troops we send into harm’s way, and to care for them and their families when they return home. For our veterans, that means providing a future of security, opportunity, and dignity; world class health care provided by the VA, with women and LGBTQ+ veterans receiving culturally competent care; and addressing the mental health crises and epidemic of suicide that are claiming too many of our veterans and service members. We have to make clear to everyone suffering from unseen wounds that there is honor and strength in reaching out for help. And we have to make sure that no veteran is locked out of treatment for conditions related to toxic exposures or traumatic brain injuries experienced in the line of duty. Fulfilling our promises to our veterans and military families, caregivers, and survivors is critical to our national security, because it is how we will ensure that future generations continue to volunteer to serve.
For the Biden family, this is also a personal commitment. We learned what it really means to be part of a military family the year that Beau deployed to Iraq with his National Guard unit. We prayed every night and morning for his safety, and we missed him at every family gathering or when tucking his children in at night. It was hard. It hurt. These are challenges most American families never have to face. And yet, Jill and I were constantly in awe when visiting with wounded service members at Christmas or hosting veterans in our home for dinners, at the pride our military members and veterans feel in their service, and at their matchless sense of duty. They are the absolute best of our country.
This Veterans Day, I feel the full weight of the honor and the responsibility that has been entrusted to me by the American people as the next president, and I vow to honor our country’s sacred obligation. To all of our proud veterans, know that I will be a commander in chief who respects your sacrifice, understands your service, and who will never betray the values you fought so bravely to defend. I will never treat you or your families with anything less than the honor you deserve.