FORT LEE, VA. (Nov. 7, 2013) -- Young people being guided by service dogs and restricted to wheelchairs may not be a pleasant sight but are stark reminders that military service and sacrifice are invariably linked.

Veterans Day gives us pause to understand that linkage. It honors the millions of men and women, past and present, who raised their hands, vowed to defend and sacrificed above all else.

Arguably, veterans are our greatest national treasure. They are the gems that stand out among the masses of the American public, rising to the courage and resolve required to set aside differences and fight for common causes.

While Veterans Day affords Americans opportunities to celebrate those who have donned uniforms, veterans should acknowledge there are no better people to serve. The American public is the impetus behind our armed forces and its support is particularly essential to winning wars.

In short, Veterans Day is a reflection of who we are as Americans – people willing to step toward the front lines of battle and those willing to support them back home.

Our popular sentiments about military service are not an overnight phenomenon. Vietnam, for one, allowed us to retrospectively examine the critical relationships between popular support, troop morale and success on the battlefield. Undoubtedly, it set us on a corrective path that has resulted in future successes.

Today, the American military and veterans enjoy unprecedented popularity and support, and its collective approval has resulted in honor and treatment commensurate with their service.

That’s to say veterans above all should feel pride in their service but feel even better about serving such a great nation, one that by and large stands behind them.

Together, the two are just as potent as any weapons system and likely the most important elements in the world’s most advanced military machine.

So, on this Veterans Day, thank you veterans, for accepting the challenge of service in blind faith. Your actions are the hefty shoulders upon which freedom stands.

Furthermore, thank you America, for honoring those with the mighty shoulders; those souls who decidedly risk their lives for the well-being of others.

Thank you for telling them you stand steadfastly in their corners, no matter how much you agree or disagree with their mission; For showing them their sacrifices are worthy of your hopes, thoughts and prayers.

Thank you for sending them off to foreign lands with swelled chests, confidence and assurance; for resisting the urge to abandon the whole when some of the parts fail.

Thank you for brightening their days with care packages, letters and other goods as they face daunting challenges in unfamiliar lands; for consoling and assisting them when they’ve suffered the loss of a buddy.

Thank you for understanding that war produces terrible tragedies – the loss of limbs and eyesight and invisible wounds that are slow to heal; for celebrating every hill taken, battle won and enemy defeated; for showing your gratitude and pride in their accomplishments upon returning home.

Thank you for providing services and assistance to their family members in their absence; for realizing military service makes it difficult for veterans to find jobs, buy homes, get an education and raise families; for recognizing that military service is our nation’s most distinct honor and one none should ever take lightly.

Thank you for understanding that a pledge to serve is a pledge to die, if necessary, to preserve our way of life; and for knowing that mighty shoulders have to be strengthened – not just on Veterans Day but everyday.