Story   Know Your Military

Every Veteran Is a Hero to the American People, Pence Says

Nov. 11, 2019 | BY Terri Moon Cronk

Vice President Mike Pence today placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, on the 66th National Veterans Day Observance, in Virginia.

Vice President Mike Pence places a wreath on a stand in front of a crowd.
Ceremonial Wreath
Vice President Mike Pence participates in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier during the National Veterans Day Observance at Arlington National Cemetery, Va., Nov. 11, 2019.
Photo By: Army Staff Sgt. Vanessa N. Atchley, DOD
VIRIN: 191111-D-UJ895-410

Following the tomb ceremony, Pence and other VIPs took the stage at the cemetery's Memorial Amphitheater and he told veterans, "You are a standing miracle, from Bunker Hill to Belleau Wood, from San Juan Hill to Saipan and from the Coral Reef to Kandahar. Nearly 50 million men and women have donned the uniform of the United States and nearly 20 million of you still walk among us today, and as we speak, a new generation of American heroes and veterans is being forged around the nation and around the world."

The vice president said he was humbled as he looked out at the audience.

Every veteran of the armed forces of the United States is a hero to the American people."
Vice President Mike Pence

"I see men and women who served in World War II, in the Korean War and Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. I see many more who have stood watch over our country in times of peace, so if … you've worn the uniform of the United States of America, would you please stand and give us [an] opportunity to show the gratitude of this nation for your service?"

Our veterans really don't consider themselves heroes, Pence said. To speak to them, most of them reject the very thought of it, he added.

Vice President Mike Pence stands on stage with a group of people and three large American flags behind.
Vets Day Observance
Vice President Mike Pence addresses a crowd during the National Veterans Day Observance at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va., Nov. 11, 2019.
Photo By: Army Staff Sgt. Vanessa Atchley, DOD
VIRIN: 191111-D-UJ895-816

"… [But] on this day it is our day to set the record straight; every veteran of the armed forces of the United States is a hero to the American people," the vice president said.

We remember those who served in combat, but on this Veterans Day, we also do well to remember that our veterans' contributions to our country continued long after you come home, he said.

You came from the rest of us, but we know you are the best of us."
Vice President Mike Pence

"They continue to serve our country in civilian life. You lead in business and education and law enforcement and public service at every level, and wherever you go, you do what you always did when you were serving in uniform," Pence said.

Our veterans show the same sense of duty and courage that defined their years in the armed forces, he added.

A group of service members stand in a line in front of a crowd, holding flags.
Veterans Day Ceremony
Service members participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier during the National Veterans Day Observance at Arlington National Cemetery, Va., Nov. 11, 2019.
Photo By: Army Staff Sgt. Vanessa Atchley, DOD
VIRIN: 191111-D-UJ895-616C
Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper and Deputy Defense Secretary David L. Norquist stand in a crowd.
Arlington Respects
Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper and Deputy Defense Secretary David L. Norquist pay their respects during the National Veterans Day Observance at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va., Nov. 11, 2019.
Photo By: Army Staff Sgt. Vanessa Atchley, DOD
VIRIN: 191111-D-UJ895-716

"For a veteran of the United States armed forces, service doesn't end when they hang up the uniform. Service is a lifelong calling," the vice president said.

Pence said Veterans Day is the day America honors all of those who stepped forward and answered the call to defend the nation at home and abroad. 

"You came from the rest of us, but we know you are the best of us," he said. "And on this day and every day, we honor your courage, your patriotism and what you've done for us. You put on the armor, you stood in the gap, you defended our freedom. You counted our lives more important than your own, you stood for a cause greater than yourselves."

A group of service members in a large crowd look toward Vice President Mike Pence on stage.
Vets Day Speech
Vice President Mike Pence addresses a crowd during the National Veterans Day Observance at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va., Nov. 11, 2019.
Photo By: Army Staff Sgt. Vanessa Atchley, DOD
VIRIN: 191111-D-UJ895-1010

To my fellow Americans who did not serve in uniform, the vice president said, "I challenge every American who did not follow a calling into service before the day is out … to find a veteran. … [Extend] your hands and say those words that they never ask to hear; that they deserve to hear every day.

"Find a veteran today and say, thank you for your service. Every single one of [them] deserves to hear it every day," Pence said.