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Honoring The Nation’s Veterans

A World War Two and Korean War veteran visits the World War Two memorial in Washington (Getty Images)

Today is Veterans Day – honoring the men and women who’ve served and defended our country. It’s also a day to give thanks to the members of the military serving around the world and their families who make sacrifices too.

Veterans Day comes on the anniversary of the end of World War I — at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. It was when Germany signed an armistice agreement with the Allies in a railroad car in France, ending what many said was the war to end all wars.

In four years, World War I left 9 million soldiers dead and 21 million wounded. Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary, France and Great Britain each lost nearly a million or more lives. In addition, at least 5 million civilians died from disease, starvation or exposure.

It was a war the United States wanted to stay out of, but the sinking of the British passenger ship Lusitania that killed a number of American citizens and the sinking of American cargo ships by German submarines forced us in. Up to that point, the war had been a stalemate. The Americans finally turned the tide in favor of the Allies.

Today there are 1.4 million active members of the American military and another 850,000 in the reserves. As of last year there are approximately 21.5 million veterans — just over a million of them are World War II veterans. But they’re dying at a rate of 600 a day.

Frank Buckles, the last surviving veteran of World War I died in 2011.

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