By the President of the United States of America
This year on Veterans Day, we celebrate the 80th anniversary of the armistice that finally silenced the guns of World War I. Millions of brave Americans marched into Europe and into the brutality of trench warfare to fight that war. Although President Woodrow Wilson recognized that "it is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war," he also realized that it was important to do so "for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts-for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own Governments . . . ." The veterans of the First World War accepted this burden and privilege, which American men and women in uniform have borne throughout the decades and still bear today.
At Cantigny, St. Mihiel, Chateau-Thierry, Belleau Wood, and the Meuse-Argonne, American soldiers withstood the onslaughts of the enemy and, with extraordinary valor and unbending determination, turned the tide of battle and won a signal victory for democracy. Our Nation has been truly blessed by the service of these veterans who set an extraordinary example of courage and devotion to country that inspired the generations of Americans who followed them into the Armed Forces.
Through two world wars, through long and costly struggles against aggression in Korea and Vietnam, through conflict in the Persian Gulf, and in numerous peacekeeping and humanitarian missions, America's veterans have risked their lives and spilled their blood to keep faith with our Nation's fundamental values of freedom, democracy, and human dignity. We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to these patriots, whose service and sacrifice have allowed us to raise our children in a country blessed with peace and prosperity and to shape a brighter future for nations around the world.
In grateful recognition of the contributions of those who have served in our Armed Forces, the Congress has provided (5 U.S.C. 6103(a)) that November 11 of each year shall be set aside as a legal public holiday to honor America's veterans. On Veterans Day, we honor all those who have served in our Armed Forces, and we remember with deep respect those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom. America's veterans have answered the highest calling of citizenship, and they continue to inspire us with the depth of their patriotism and the generosity of their service.
Now, Therefore, I, William J. Clinton, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Wednesday, November 11, 1998, as Veterans Day. I urge all Americans to acknowledge the courage and sacrifice of our veterans through appropriate public ceremonies and private prayers. I call upon Federal, State, and local officials to display the flag of the United States and to encourage and participate in patriotic activities in their communities. I invite civic and fraternal organizations, places of worship, schools, businesses, unions, and the media to support this national observance with suitable commemorative expressions and programs.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this ninth day of November, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-third.
William J. Clinton
[Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 8:45 a.m., November 10, 1998]