The end of “the war to end all wars” came in the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918. President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day honoring those brave men and women the following year. In 1954, the word “Armistice” was replaced with “Veterans” and the day became known as the day to honor American veterans of all wars.

Today, I carry on that tradition and honor those who serve. It is because of those who came before me and continue to come after that I am able to challenge the system of authority that strips us of our inalienable rights. For them, I am thankful.

As I reflect today, I am proud of my service. I am also proud of the service my family has given to our great republic for nearly the last 75 years. From my Grandfather to my nephew, someone in my family has participated in nearly every major conflict since The Second World War and served in every major branch of our armed forces.

My Grandfather served in this great country’s Army. He fought valiantly in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Like most members of the greatest generation, he rarely spoke of the atrocities of war. The one rare occasion he did was the only occasion I witnessed him weep. He didn’t even shed a tear when he told us he was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

My uncle, from whom I get my middle name, served in Vietnam as a Navy Corpsman. He also spoke of war. His warnings were more overt than my Grandfather’s. I never saw him emotional, but he was stern in his position. Despite the fact that he came home, he reminded me that a part of him never did.

Two of his sons served. Shawn served in the Army spending the majority of his time in Germany. My cousin Alan served in the Air Force before earning his accounting degree in Northern Florida.

I was next in line serving in the US Navy on submarines as a nuclear operator. My service saw the beginning of the War on Terror resulting from the attack on the World Trade Towers. While most of you reading this were watching history unfold, I was sitting in the ocean thinking it was a drill.

My younger cousin Clint came after me. Clint’s service in the Marines duringĀ  Operation Iraqi Freedom is the stuff books are written about and is made into movies. He is also the only one of us to pursue a military or para-military career after service. As a border patrol agent he is a member of one of the most elite teams in all of federal law enforcement.

My sister-in-law also served. She was activated to the Middle East shortly after she and my brother started a family. They quickly learned that the needs of the military come first. Amanda would miss the next year or so of her first daughter’s young life. Thankfully, Amanda left Daniel in a network of supportive family enabling him to excel as a police officer.

And lastly, my nephew is committed to serve. He took the oath of enlistment over the summer and will leave for boot-camp after finishing his senior year in high school. In the meantime, he drills with the JROTC to sharpen up.

I take pride in my service. I also take pride in the service my family gave. Today, I honor all Veterans the same as I do those in my family.