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By Senator Mike Crapo

"On that day let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom…In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans' organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose."

-President Dwight D. Eisenhower

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier; simple, white headstones blanketing the Arlington hills on the banks of the Potomac; similar headstones high on a hill overlooking the Treasure Valley; unmarked graves on distant shores; men and women you hurry past in the mall or at the store; a friend from church; residents in a Veterans' Home; a neighbor or family member; a fellow college student, perhaps in a wheelchair-all of them, men and women who have defended our freedom with honor, dignity and a belief in something larger than themselves.

This Veterans Day will come in the aftermath of an election that could break voter turnout records across the nation. Our sense of what our country stands for and in what direction our future lies is the topic of many conversations at work, school, on the phone, at the dinner table and online. The issues are complex, and consequences of actions, far-reaching. Opinions vary widely, but one thing remains constant-we are all Americans with, in the words of President Eisenhower, a heritage of freedom to support and defend. Whether it is the current conflicts, or wars long since chronicled in history books, a visit to the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery or cemeteries elsewhere, or to the history book of your own family reveal freedom's protectors-brave souls passed on. A Thanksgiving dinner, church service, walk through the neighborhood or even a day at work, leads to encounters with freedom's protectors, the wars behind them, but the memories often fresh.

A number of veterans have shared remarkable stories with me over the years. Those I visit with are united in their sense of honor and privilege earned in service to our nation that they love. That seems to bind them together as much as shared stories of military service.

I am exceedingly grateful for the service and sacrifice of our military. These men and women are the reason why we can disagree so vociferously during a campaign season and not fear physical harm and retribution. Our nation remains free and our borders, uncompromised, precisely because men and women offered life and limb to ensure that we were and continue to be a sovereign nation. They stood with weapons at the ready in other lands, so that we can walk to the polls down the street. They engaged in deadly firefights so that we can express, without fear, our support or rejection of government, belief systems and individuals. They encountered their mortality and, while death took some, many more returned from that perilous meeting, so that we could hear the voices and see, once more, the faces of freedom-our freedom.

We are the United States of America. We are in this world for a reason. We stand against tyranny. We stand for liberty and freedom. We stand for equality. We will defend this proud and extraordinary heritage-this is the solemn duty that our veterans undertook, at all costs. Make this November 11 a day that you "join in common purpose" to seek out and thank a veteran for your precious American heritage. Please visit my website at for more information about Veterans Day and my Spirit of Freedom Award recipients.