By Rogelio Madrazo Serra

In 1954, the second Tuesday in November was designated Veteran's Day to remind the citizens of this great nation that we owe the peace and prosperity we take for granted to the enormous sacrifices of men and women who have left their families, churches, and work, to respond the call to duty.

Today, our country celebrated another Veteran's Day. On this day, our military forces are fighting in faraway places to eradicate the oppression and danger posed by religious fanatics and murderers who see freedom as a peril to their way of life. To these brave citizens, I a Cuban by birth pay homage and show my deepest respect.

The life that I have lived did not afford me the opportunity to serve in the armed forces of either my native country or my adopted one. The admiration I feel for those who have served and are serving in the military comes from the perspective of one who never had to prove that he has what it takes to assume with honor the responsibility of a call to arms.

I pray that our leaders be guided by the highest ideals and the genuine need to defend our country. I also pray for the necessary staying power to finish what we have started. I do this in the sad knowledge that for some time to come, families will suffer the loss of loved ones and that lives full of promise will be truncated before their contributions to the world have been realized. Everything has a price, and this is the price a nation pays when its citizens are called to arms.

I pray that the freedom that women in Afghanistan are beginning to enjoy expands each day, and that never again is there a regime that relegates them to subsist in slavery. I pray that the central government grows strong and leads the country on the long road to democracy, overcoming the influence of selfish warlords and immoral teachers of hate who hide behind religion to pursue their destructive goals.

I pray for the freedom of the Iraqis, that their tyrant will never return. I pray for reconciliation and that the seed of representative governments will spread through the region, ending almost a century of living under the hegemony of corrupt families and military cliques.

Again to the veterans of this Nation, I want to say thank you. May God bless you, and may your sacrifice not be in vain.


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