• Published
  • By Col. Ronald Cheatham

Armistice Day is celebrated every year on 11 November to commemorate the armistice signed to end hostilities on World War I’s Western Front. The peace took effect at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918. Whether it is now known as Remembrance Day, as it is here, or as Veteran’s Day, the importance of remembering the sacrifice of military servants and civilian heroes should not be forgotten. As we approach the 99th anniversary of peace, let us remember the sacrifice of the men and women whose footprints we walk in today.

Let us remember the heroics of our host nation’s Royal Air Force, which repelled an enemy air force despite a clear disadvantage in numbers. The skill, courage, and fighting spirit of our British friends inspired Prime Minister Churchill’s words which many American students learn in history: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” As Americans, our work ethic should honor those “few” every day that we work on an RAF base, out of respect for such a skilled and brave group of flyers.

As we applaud the RAF’s excellent example, let us also remember Billy Fiske, an American who enlisted in the RAF and died while fighting in the Battle of Britain. He was 29 when he gave his life fighting for freedom alongside his British allies. At the same time, let us not forget young men such as Seaman Hugh McInnes, born in Scotland.  He was 55 when he died with his US Merchant Mariners in 1944. He lies next to the 3,812 American Servicemen who are buried and 5,127 members memorialized on the Tablets of the Missing at Madingley American Cemetery. Let us remember Seaman McInnes and the 3,812 and all that they symbolize.

We must remember the contributions of our civilians, who have served bravely since our nation’s birth.  During the Civil War, the famous order to “Fix Bayonets” came from a simple school teacher named Joshua Chamberlain, who saved the flank of the Union forces and ultimately prevented the enemy’s march toward the nation’s capital.  Remember civilians like Eric Jones, who was exiting Interstate 395 on 11 September when five terrorists flew a Boeing 757 into the Pentagon. Jones spent the next three days sifting through the rubble looking for victims and helping the injured. His efforts earned him the “Medal of Valor” from the Secretary of Defense.

Let us remember one of our national mottos, E pluribus unum, out of many, one. Remember the many diverse people who have come together as one to defend our country and our way of life. Let us celebrate Rosie the Riveter, the cultural icon of World War II, representing the women who worked in American shipyards and factories across the country to produce much-needed munitions and other supplies.  Let us cheer the Women Airforce Service Pilots, a band of 1,074 female pilots during the war, including Mexican Americans, Chinese Americans, and a Native American.  Let us revere the accomplishments of the 332nd Fighter Group, the African-American pilots who escorted bombers on the most dangerous missions, and did so without ever losing a bomber to enemy forces.  Let us honor the 25,000 Native Americans who actively fought in the Second World War, including those who worked behind enemy lines as code talkers while using the Navajo language to disrupt enemy intelligence code breaking efforts. 

It is important to remember our true calling:  To provide security and protection to our nation and its allies.  Remember those that died in war did so that we may have a chance to preserve peace. 

Remember that it is an honor and a privilege, but also a responsibility, to join a team of professional men and women, both in uniform and in civilian clothes. 

Remember to remain humble guests and to be curious students of our host nation’s deep history and rich culture. 

Remember our families back home who depend on us to reflect the best of America and to earn the way of life that earlier generations worked so hard to provide us. 

Remember to be great torchbearers of democracy and all that it promises. 


Remember, lest we forget.